Functionalist Perspective on Education (purposes of education)

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  • Functionalist Perspective on Education
    • Talcott Parsons (1961): Meritocracy
      • Parsons argues that after primary socialisation, the schools takes over as the main socialising agency
      • Children are judged based on particularistic standards at home but when they start school they are judged on universalistic standards
      • Schools are a 'society in miniature' as it reflects society with people's status being achieved and not ascribed, so in theory the more you work the higher your status which is supposedly what happens in society
      • Parsons agrees with Durkheim that the school is a place where young people are taught the basic values of society
      • Evaluation of Parsons
        • Strengths
          • Shows us how education prepares us for modern society which is competitive and based on individual achievments
        • Weaknesses
          • Parsons fails to consider the diversity of values in modern societies
          • Conflict theories such as Marxists criticse the idea of meritocracy and say it is an illusion made by the upper class as a reason why the poor are poor
    • Kingsley Davis & Wilbert Moore (1945): Role Allocation
      • Support Parsons with arguing schools play a key part in the selection of indivudals
      • Argue that education plays a key role in ensuring that young people go into roles necessary for society through testing and evaluating students, matching their talents, skills and capacities to the jobs for which people are best suited
      • Evaluation of Kingsley Davis & Wilbert Moore
        • Strengths
          • Shows us the importance of role allocation in starting in school to ensure role allocation takes place In society so we fulfil important roles
        • Weaknesses
          • Critics have argued that intelligence and ability have only a limited influence on educational achievment
    • Alfred Schutz (1971): Expansion of Education
      • Modern industrial society is technological so the skills of the workforce to perform the labour is important to increase a society's economic value
        • Suggests that high levels of spending on education and training via a meritocratic education system are needed as these expand people's knowledge and skills which leads to greater economic efficiency


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