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  • Created by: Iveta
  • Created on: 16-03-14 16:00

Functionalists view on Education

Durkheim: saw the main role of education as the transmission of the norms and values of society. Education helps to unite all individuals together, creating a sense of togetherness, sense of belonging, social solidarity and belonging in society.

She saw schools as 'societies in miniature' where they help to prepare students for the world of work. They are taught necessary skills necessary for the world of work and how to corporate with others besides their family and friends. Schools are therefore essential because parents cannot teach them these skills since they LACK the specialist knowledge.
Therefore, she concludes that education creates stability, unity and it is important for passing on important information to  students.

AO2: Howevers, others have criticised this and argued that education does NOT CREATE UNITY. Hargreaves claimed that education can be SOCIALLY DIVISIVE and splits students up into a different hierachy of schools and universitities i.e. the middle class get sent to higher league schools whereas working class to lower league schools.
Similarly, Becker et al argues that schools are divisive because they usually place the m/c into higher streams whereas the w/c are placed in bottom sets. No unity but inequalitiy

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Durkheim also argues that schools teach students important things and they are encouraged to FOLLOW A FIXED SET OF RULES which helps to prepare them for the adult world.

AO2: However, interactionist sociologist Denise Wrong refutes Durkheim because not all students follow rules. Functionalists have an 'over-socialised' view of people as mere puppets in society and they wrongly assume that everyone will passively accept and not reject rules. This is not the case and its demonstrated by Willi's study of the anti-school subcultre formed by lads.

Parsons argues that education acts as a BRIDGE between family and wider society.
The bridge is important becuase family and society act on different norms so it is important for students to learn a new way of living.
Within the family, the child's status is ASCRIBED and PARTICULARISTIC standards apply where the child is treated as a particular individual. Within the wider society, UNIVERSALISTIC standards apply where people are judged equally. People's status is also ACHIEVED which means that they have to work for what they want.
Parsons conncluded that the exam system judges everyone FAIRLY and EQUALLY because they want all students to achieve well.

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AO2: However, Parsons has been crticised because NOT all students are judged equally at school.
Coard found that there was systematic racism in school and schools wanted to deprive black students from opportunity. Gillborn and Youdell argued that African students in particular were negatively labelled by teachers as deviant and as lazy. They were given less attention and placed in bottom sets. This shows how they are treeated less fairly. Simialrly, Becker et al claimed that working-class students were negatively labelled and this created self-fulfilling prohecies.

David and Moore: they saw education as a means of role allocation.
They argue that education SELECTS pupils to IDENTIY the MOST TALENTED. Then they are awarded with the highest qualifications and better paid jobs than less talented students. This means that the MOST COMPETENT people can fulfil the most important jobs in society.
They also see education as being MERITOCRATIC where people are judged on the bassi of their ability and effort rather than who they are. This shows how education creates equality and is fair.

AO2: However, Marxists Bowles and Gintis argue that meritocracy is a MYTH. It encourages students to blame themselves if they fail, not the educational system and this is the way

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inequalitities are legitimated. They fail to take into acount that achievment is not based on equality or how how the student has worked but i is liked closely to their SOCIAL CLASS. The Middle class have social contacts, money and cultural capital so they can get better job than working class.

Further criticisms of functionalists......

  • Feminists refute functionalists view because education does not create solidarity or unity but creates GENDER INEQAULITIES where girls are disadvantaged in the educational system. Culley found that boys colonalise and dominate science and ICT subjects which are considered as tradionally male and teachers do little about this.
    Stanworth argues that girls are encouraged less by teachers to pursue a degree a degree because they were seen as more clever.
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