Functionalist views on the role of education

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  • Functionalist views on the role of education
    • Evaluation
      • Dennis Wrong- 'over-socialised view' of people as mere puppets. Pupils don't passively accept
      • Melvin Tumin- circular argument- jobs that matters are highly rewarded. They are highly rewarded... because they matter more???
      • New Right- the state education system doesn't prepare young adequately. State control discourages efficiency, competition and choice
      • There's evidence equal opportunities don't exist- class background affects achievement
      • Marxists- education only transmits ideology of the minority ruling class
    • Davis and Moore- role allocation
      • Inequality needed to ensure most important roles are filled by the most talented, or there would be danger and inefficiency. Not everyone is equally talented, so society offers higher rewards to encourage competition to select the most talented
      • Parsons- schools select and allocate pupils to future work roles through assessing attitudes and abilities
      • Peter Blau and Otis Duncan- modern economy depends on 'human capital' (worker's skills). Meritocratic education system does this best, enabling each to be allocated to the job best suited for them, making best use of their talents and maximising productivity
      • Education is proving ground for ability, 'sifts and sorts'- most able -> most qualifications-> most important jobs
    • Parsons- meritocracy
      • School prepares us to move from the family to wider society, as it is also based on meritocratic principles. Individuals are rewarded through their own effort and ability
      • School is a 'focal socialising agency', bridging family and wider society which operate on different principles
      • Judged:
        • In family- child's status is ascribed, and particular rules apply to particular children
        • In school and society- status is achieved. Individuals are judged by universalistic and impersonal standards
    • Durkheim- solidarity and skills
      • Specialist skills
        • Modern industrial economies-> complex division of labour, requiring many different specialists cooperating-> promotes social solidarity
        • Each must have necessary specialist knowledge and skills for roles; given by education so we can play our part
      • Social solidarity
        • School is 'society in miniature', preparing us for wider society. In both, we cooperate and interact with others according to a set of impersonal rules for all
        • Individual members must feel like parts of a single body, or social life and cooperation would be impossible and we would all follow selfish desires
        • Education system helps solidarity through secondary socialisation. Teaching of history gives source of shared heritage and commitment to wider social group


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