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Functionalist Perspective
· A consensus/conservative view that sees society as being
essentially harmonious
· Society has basic needs, including the need for social
order
· Society needs social solidarity through everyone sharing
the same norms and values
· Social institutions such as education perform positive
functions both for society as a whole and for individuals
· This is done by socialising new members and helping
create and sustain social solidarity
· Sociologists: Durkheim, Parsons, Davis and Moore…read more

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Emile Durkheim (1903)
· Promotes social solidarity
Transmits society's shared culture by teaching a common
history and shared rituals
Show pupils they have a shared past and a common purpose
Teaches children to follow universalistic rules
· Prepares young people for work
Industrial societies have a specialised division of labour
Requires people to undergo long periods of training for
specific occupations
Equips individuals with the specialist skills needed to
participate in work in a modern economy…read more

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Talcott Parsons (1961)
· Secondary socialisation
Universalistic standards are taught as opposed to each child
being treated as someone `special' (primary socialisation)
A bridge between family and wider society
Socialises individuals into the shared norms and values of
meritocratic society
· Meritocracy
Individual achievement ­ everyone achieves their status
through their own efforts
Equal opportunity for everyone to achieve their full potential
Society in miniature ­ school is a miniature version of wider
society (both are meritocratic) - prepares them for modern
society which is competitive and individualistic…read more

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Davis and Moore (1945)
· Role Allocation
Selection and allocation of individuals to future work roles
`Sifts and sorts' individuals so that most talented get best
qualifications and most important jobs
Higher rewards offered for these jobs to motivate people to
strive for them
Society is more productive because the most able do the
most important jobs
· Human capital theory
Modern society is technologically advanced, so the skills of
its workforce are its main asset or `capital'
Meritocratic education system is the best way to develop a
sufficiently skilled workforce…read more

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Functionalist Evaluation
· Marxists - values transmitted are not society's shared values,
but rather those of the ruling class
· Not meritocratic ­ schools discriminate against some groups
and don't give them an equal opportunity to achieve
· Hargreaves (1982) ­ schools place more value on competition
and developing individuals than on a sense of social solidarity
· Difficult to see a direct link between subjects studied at school
and what is required of workers in their jobs
· Not all pupils accept the school's values, some rebel against
them
· A person's ascribed characteristics (CAGE) are more important
in determining their success than their achievement in school…read more

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