Functionalist View on Education


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Social solidarity:
o Through generational transmission of norms and values
o The way in which schools are like a miniature version of society Prepares for adult
interaction and following social rules
Teaching specialist skills:
o So that individuals can take their place in a highly complex division of labour in which people
cooperate to produce items
Education acts as a bridge between family and wider society by teaching universalistic
o Members of a family are treated individually and allowances are made according to
particularistic standards
o Not true to society where everyone is treated equally and standards are universalistic
o Education eases this transition
Exam system judges on merit
School rules apply to all students equally
Young people are socialised into the basic values of society:
o Value of meritocracy ­ one's own status achieved through one's own effort
o Value of equality of opportunity ­where everyone can achieve their full potential
Davis and Moore
Education is a means of role allocation through the process of sifting and sorting
o Marxists: Schools promote a dominant culture which serves in the interest of the ruling class
rather than society as a whole
o Willis and Hargreaves: Transmission of school's norms and values not always successful as
some students reject school's values and form anti-school subcultures. Willis's lads openly
embraced values opposite of the school and conformist student's
o Private Schooling, and inequalities in ethnicity, social class and gender challenge the view that
education in Western society is meritocratic
o Dennis Wrong: Parsons has `over-socialised view' of people as mere puppets of society who
passively accept all that they are taught and never reject school values.

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Davis and Moore CRITICISMS
o Bordieu: middle-class children have a higher social and cultural capital and achieve more
qualifications than working class children. Therefore abilities have a limited influence of
o Bowles and Gintis: middle class children gain high qualifications irrespective of their abilities
and intelligence, therefore meritocracy does not exist (myth of meritocracy). This then further
legitimates class inequalities.…read more


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