AS Sociology- Education

AQA Sociology

Education topic

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  • Created by: Ashleigh
  • Created on: 29-03-12 08:44

Functionalism - Durkheim

Education has two functions:

1) Education is involved in the secondary socialisation process

    Education socialisation leads to social solidarity

Social Solidarity- A group of people pulling together, agreeing about the views and have the same norms and values.

If schools help to create social solidarity, it helps to create a functional society. By teaching the history of your culture in schools this also helps to create a functional society.

2) Education teaches specialised skills

    Skills which can help other institutions to function well

e.g. to do specific types of jobs and skills in your career

Skills can also be used for families and parenting.

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Education is an agent of secondary socialisation.

1) Parsons says education helps to create a value consensus.

Value consensus- everyone has the same values, norms and attitudes.

2) Educations acts as a bridge between family and wider society

Family                                                                        Wider Society

Particularistic values                                                 Universalistic values

Ascribed status                                                          Achieved status

You need a bridge so that you can fit into wider society.

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Role Allocation

Role- A particular social position which carries with it particular norms and expectations.

1) Occupational role (student) norms come with this role e.g. doing the work, turing up on time.

2) Family roles e.g. child, sibling, aunt, parent

Education is part of role allocation

Trying to allocate an individual perons for the job they are best suited. Education selects people through exams and qualifications for the jobs they are best suited to.


You have efficient role allocation then jobs will be done well and efficiently. The will then make society efficient.

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Davis and Moore - Efficient Role Allocation

The most talented people should be put in the most functionally important roles.

Functionally important roles- the jobs/roles most important for society to function well.

The most functionally important jobs will get the highest rewards( status, material reward and power) these are the incentive. Incentive is needed as you are making a sacrifice especially in education.

Equal Opportunities

In education we have equal opportunities no matter your background.

Meritocracy or Meritocratic institution/society

This needs to work otherwise Davis and Moore's theory falls down.

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Parsons and Durkheim Criticisms

 - Assumes students will be passive recievers of the socialisation school gives them.

Wrong(1961) argues that functionalists have an 'over socialised view' of people as mere puppets of society. Functionalists wrongly imply that pupils passively accept all they are taught and never reject the schools values.

 Durkheim Criticism

- Assumes that school will prepare you well for the work you  will do in later life. There are some subjects which are needed to get work which are not taught at school e.g. CV writting and Interview skills, finance.

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Criticisms of Davis and Moore

- The theory assumes that power, status and money are the main motivation. Some people are motivated by job satisfaction.

- Assumes that everyone will agree on which jobs are important.

- It also assumes that the highest rewards go to the highest functionally important jobs whereas this may not happen.

-  Also assume that education is a meritocracy. E.g. 11+ better off families could afford tutors, Private schools also provide better quality education to those that can afford it.

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Conflict Theory

Analyses society based on class (class based analysis) Focuses on one economic system, Capitalist.

Capitalist System

Businesses are mainly owned privately as opposed to state owned. Businesses are primarily run to make a profit.

Two classes:

  • Bourgeoisie - Own the means of production
  • Proletariat -  Sell their labour and skills

The Bourgeoisie need the Proletariat for labour, Proletariat need Bourgeoisie for money and work.

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Marxism Continued

The vast majority are Proletariat, they are also known as The Masses or The Subject Class.

The Bourgeoisie are more privileged, they are also known as The Elite or The Ruling Class.

Their relationship is unequal as the Bourgeoisie have a majority of the power and exploit the Proletariat and oppress them.

The Bourgeoisie never pay the full value of the work they do and keep the Proletariat in a state of False Class Consiousness.

False Class Consiousness - Not aware of the true situation as they are socialised to accept it. They do not know how much they are being exploited/oppressed.

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Marxism and Education

Marxists believe the role of education is to support Capitalism.

Argueably, the Bourgeoisie are in control of education and as it is a key agent of secondary socialisation they will socialise people to value Capitalism. This creates a Pro Capitalist Ideology.

By doing this they get the children to develop False Class Consiousness


Althusser-  Education is an ISA and passes on the Pro Capitalism Ideology


ISA- Ideological State Aparatus.

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