sociological perspectives on education

notes on all the required perspectives of education e.g. functionalism,marxist, feminist, new right.

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  • Created on: 20-05-12 00:34
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Sociology perspectives on education.
Functionalist perspective.
Functionalist view education as having positive functions for society. It
helps keep social stability. This is because it helps teach the new
generation social norms and values helping cause value consensus which is
the shared agreements about goals and values of society. Education
provides secondary socialisation after the family and helps teach children
their duties and responsibilities. They believe education is meritocratic
which means we have equal opportunities and achieve more due to our
merits. It also supports the economy through role allocation of future jobs
matched to an individuals abilities.
Emile Durkheim
Durkheim believes the key to society is social solidarity this is where
everyone works together in unity and joins individuals with society. He
argues schools are like mini societies and teaches people to work together. It
helps teach students of history and political structures. It helps teach children
skills to operate in further society. The schools use of punishments
discourages people to do actions which are detrimental to the social group
and encourages useful behaviours via rewards. There are a few criticisms of
Durkheim for example there is no evidence that the education system is
successful in transmitting values or social solidarity. Marxist argue the only
values transmitted are those of the ruling class.
Talcott Parsons
he argues schools is the first place people are taught universalistic values.
He argues school is the focal socialising agent as it is the most important
after school. He similar to Durkheim believes school is a miniature society in
which we achieve based on meritocracy. Due to it being a mini society is
prepares young people for their future roles as adults. It uses tests and a
young persons abilities to see what roles they are most suited for in adult
roles this is one of the major roles of schools. Schools also give equality of
opportunity to its students ­ which is where they all have the equal chances
of success.
Davis and Moore.
They believe educations key role is role allocation. They
believe education makes sure those most talented and
able society members are given the most functional and
important role in society. Rewards are used as incentives to
make them more important positions more appealing.
This is to create competition to make sure the most
talented are successful. Criticisms of Davis and Moore are
there is a weak link between academic credentials and
occupational reward. It had been argued that intellect
may have little effect on education attainment.
Crticisms of Functionalist perspective in general.
· Some argue social values are not shared
· that meritocracy is a myth
· ignores individuals effect on things like classroom and achievement
· work skills are not always taught
· education is not suitable for all as certain education is ethnocentric and ignore ethnic
· it only teaches values of ruling classes (Marxist criticisms)

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Marxist perspective.
They argue education only shows the interest of the ruling class in the
capitalist society. The society is all about exploitation of the working class.
Education satisfies the need of the ruling class as it provides a labour force
which are obedient and easily exploitable.
Bowles and Gintis.
They analysed how schools prepare the next generation for work. They argue
schools create workers with personalities and behaviour which are obedient
and will work hard for low pay.…read more

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Marxist perspective is extremely negative
· ignores other forms of inequalities e.g sexism
Feminist perspective.
They more focus on general aspects of education and are not a main
perspective in the education module. Gender language- they use male
pronouns when explaining people or place for example his, him. This
downgrades women and makes them seem invisible.
Gender roles- they present women and men in traditional roles in textbooks.
Gender stereotypes- they present stereotypes for example boys are
adventurous, physically stronger.…read more

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There is not real parental choice
· there is no evidence that no competition decrease standards.…read more


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