The role of education - Functionalism

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  • The role of education - Functionalism
    • What is functionalism?
      • Society is a system of interdependent parts held together by a value consensus
    • Role allocation
      • Parsons
        • Schools allocate pupils to future work roles by assessing their aptitudes and abilities
      • Davis and Moore (1945)
        • Inequality is necessary to ensure the most important roles are filled by the most talented people
        • Not everyone is equally talented, so society has to offer higher rewards for the best jobs
        • Education acts as a proving ground
      • Blau and Duncan (1978)
        • A meritocratic education system makes the best use of peoples' talents
    • Emile Durkheim (1903)
      • Social solidarity
        • People must feel they belong to a community
        • Without it, people would be selfish and social life would be impossible
      • Specialist skills
        • Education teaches people the skills they need to play their part in the social division of labour
    • Talcott Parsons (1961)
      • Particularistic standards
        • Within the family
        • Rules apply to a particular child
        • The child's status is ascribed by birth
      • Universalistic standards
        • School and wider society
        • Everyone judged by the same standards
        • Status is largely achieved i.e. success is determined by ability and effort
    • Evaluation
      • 'Educational achievement is based on merit'
        • Class, gender and ethnicity also influence achievement
      • 'Education selects the best people to do the best jobs'
        • It's not all about grades; it's 'who you know'
      • 'Education benefits society as a whole'
        • Marxists say it benefits the ruling class
        • Feminists say it benefits men
    • VET
      • Work related study
      • Teaches specialist skills so they can meet society's economic needs
      • E.g Youth Training Schemes; NVQs; BTECs


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