The Functionalist Perspective on Education

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  • The Functionalist Perspective on Education
    • Seen as an important agency of socialization, helping to maintain social stability through the development of value consensus, social harmony and social cohesion
      • Plays a key role in preparing children for adulthood and working life
      • Provides them with the means for improving their lives through upward social mobility
    • The two most important functionalist writers were Emile Durkeim and Talcott Parsons
    • Passing on society's culture and building social solidarity
      • Meets key functional prerequisites by passing on society's core values and culture
      • Also done through the hidden curriculum in schools
      • Unites people together, building social solidarity and value consensus
    • Providing a bridge between the particularistic values and ascribed status of the family and the universalistic values and achieved status of contemporary advanced societies
      • Durkeim argued that schools are like a miniature society which prepares children for the adult world
      • Parsons says that schools are important places of secondary socialization
        • Provides a bridge between the family and the outside world
      • People have to earn their status in society according to their achievements such as skill, talent or educational achievement
    • Developing human capital - a trained and qualified labour force
      • Human capital refers to the knowledge and skill possessed by a workforce that increase that workforce's value and usefulness to employers
    • Selecting and allocating people for roles in a meritocracy society, and legitimizing social inequality
        • The education system is a means of selecting or sifting people for different levels of the job market and ensuring that the most talented and qualified people are allocated to the most important jobs
      • In a meritocratic society, access to jobs, and to positions of wealth, status and power, depend mainly on educational qualifications and other skills and talents


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