The functionalist perspective of education

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  • The functionalist perspective on education
    • Durkheim (1903)
      • Social solidartity
        • School transmits shared beliefs and values to create a sense of solidarity.
        • Teaching a country's history instils a sense of shared heritage.
        • "Society in miniature"
          • School prepares us for the wider society
      • Specialist skills
        • Education teaches specialist knowledge and skills.
        • Necessary skills needed for a complex division  of labour.
    • Parsons (1961)
      • Meritocracy
        • "Focal socialising agency"
          • School acts as a bridge between family and wider society.
        • Particularistic standards
          • Particular standards within a family.
          • Child's status is ascribed at birth.
        • Universal/ impersonal standards
          • School and wider society judge us by these standards.
          • A person's status is largely achieved.
    • Evaluation
      • Doesn't teach specialist skills adequately.
      • Achievement is greatly influenced by class background rather than ability.
      • Melvin Tumin (1953) criticises Davis and Moore for posing a circular argument.
      • Marxists- education only transmits values of the ruling class.
      • Dennis Wrong (1961) - functionalists wrongly assume pupils are passive and accept all.
      • New right- education fail to prepare adequately for work.
    • Davis and Moore (1945)
      • Role allocation
        • Selects and allocates pupils to their future work roles.
        • Relationship between education and inequality.
          • Inequality is necessary so the most important roles are filled by most able.
        • School acts as a providing ground for ability.
        • Blau and Duncan (1978)
          • "Human capital"
            • Meritocratic education system allows individuals to be allocated to jobs best suited to their abilities.
              • Most effective use of talents and maximise productivity.


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