Functionalist perspective

undersatsnding of each theory



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  • Created by: carvina
  • Created on: 10-04-12 15:37


Functionalism is a sociologocal theory ehich i based on the following ideas: society has certain basic needs. the most important of which is the need for sociol order. this is becase without order the society would, tend to disintigrate to fall aprat. social order is based on 

Solodarity- ( Social Unit) this is a result from shared norms and values, this simply menas the society life is predictable and runs smoothly. on the other hand it is also a result of people cooperating and pulling in the same directions.

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when analyzing a particular part of the society such as the family as an example: or the political system, functionalists often ask ' what is the fuction? by this they are simply asking ' how does the family meet it's society needs how doe it contribute in the maintenance and well being of society. However, functionalists are no longer fashionable. however, they list ideas about the role of education in society which influences some researches. These ideas are examined by the following sociologiest with their perspectives. 

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Emile Durkheim

He mentioned the idea of; sociol solidarity 

The french sociologist argued that sociol solidarity - socil order is essential for the survival of the society. this then liks to the fact where functionalist said that the society has certain basic needs, and these needs are meet by sociol order. sociol solidarity is the essetial similarities between members of the society. According to Durkhiem one of the the main fuctions of education is having teh ability to develope these similarities so it binds members of siciety together. 

An example for thsi would be in teh history of sociol solidarity; the idea of American children growing up with stories about their country's founders, eg Goerge Washigton cutting down his fathers cherry tree, and their county's heroes an dmany more. with a shared history people fell part of a wider social group- it is theri country made up of people like themselves.

In this same way education contributes to the development of social solidarity 

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Specialised skills

industrial society has a specialised division of labour- this measn people have specialised jobs with spectic skills and knowledge requirements. for example the skills and knowledge required people who apply for jobs such as ; plumbers, teachers, electricians, and doctors are very differen. in preindustrial societies there were fewer specialized occupations. this was often passed from parents to children. 

However, According to Durkheim. the specailised division of labour in indistrial societies relies increasingly on the educational system to provide the skils and knowledge required by the workforce. 

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Talcott Parsons

Secondary socilisation : This sociologiest developed from  Durkheim idea. He saw the educational system as the main agency of secondary socialisation, acting as a bridge between the family and the wider society. School build on the promary socialisation provided by the family, developing value consensus- agreement about the values of society- and preparing young people fo their adult roles 

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Individual achievement

He carries on identifying that individual acheivement is a major value in modern industrial society. in schools, young people are encouraged to achieve as individuals. High acheivement is rewarded with praise, high state, good grades and valuable qualifications. This prepares young people to achive at individuals in the world of Work 

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Equality of Opportunity

an equal chance for everyday is another major value in modern society. schools transmit this value by offering all their pupils an equal chance of success.

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Accoring to parsons, schools are miniature version of the wider society. they reflect the values of the wider society. young people are required to act in terms of those values in the classroom. and as a result they are prepared for adult roles. 

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Role allocation

Parsons sees role allocation as one of the main functions of the educational system. this involves sifting ,sorting, assessing and evaluating young people in terms of their talents and abilities, then allocating them to appropriate roles in the wider society. for example, people with artistic talent are then directed towards and trained for occupations such as photographer, graphic designer and fashion desighner. 

Role allocation involves testing students in order to discover their talents, developing those talents on appropriate courses then matching those talents to the jobs for which they are best suited. 

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Functionalist Evaluation

the following cristisism have been made of functionalists views of education.

  • Rather then transniting society's values the education syste may be transmiting the values of a rulling class or rulling elite. 
  • There is evidence that certain groups underachieves in schools- for example the working class and certain ethnic minority groups. tthis suggests that 
  • Pupils do have equal opportunities 
  • their talents have not been effectively developed and essed
  • the system of role allocation is not very efficiet, 

Is the educational system providing the knowledge and skills required in the workplace it is difficult to see a direct link between many school subjects and teh world of work. 

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