Functionalist views on education

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  • Functionalist views on education
    • Highlight a number of core functions of education:
      • Teaching skills needed for economic growth
      • Secondary sociolisation
      • Role allocation
  • Durkheim
    • According to Durkheim as everyone has to co-exist with other people, one of the main functions of education is to socialise children into the norms and values of society (value consensus)
      • Durkheim stressed thahat education was to give children a sense of social solidarity - a feeling of identification with a group and responsibility towards others.
    • Schools also act as a 'society in miniature', preparing us for wider society.
    • Provide a workforce with a diverse range of skills for an industrial industry.
  • Parsons
    • Argued family is primary agent of socialisation but education is secondary
    • Argues we are judged in terms of achieved status and universalistic values.
    • For Parsons, schools operate on meritocratic principles
      • Therefore schools instil the value of achievement and value of equal opportunity
    • Argues that the family has particularistic values and by going to school children learn the univerlisticvalues of society. Preparing children for adult roles (role allocation)
  • Davis and Moore
    • DevelopedParsons idea of Role Allocation and link it to Social Stratification
      • Social stratification is a means of ensuring the most talented people fill the positions that are most functionay importatant for society.
      • Argue education is a "proving ground for ability.. a selective agent for placing people according to their capabilities"
      • Education therefore sifts and sorts in terms of ability which is rewarded by exam success. Because they argue society is equal.
  • Schultz
    • Argues high levels of spending on education and training are essential for the development of human capital
    • Human capital meaning people getting the jobs most suited to them.


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