Sociology - Educational Perspectives

The Marxist and Functionalist views of education

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Education - Functionalism

Functionalists - the functions of education

Functionalists argue that education has three broad functions:

  • Role Allocation - education allocates people into the most appropriate job for their talents, using examinations and qualifications. This is seen to be fair because there is equality of opportunity - everyone has the chance to achieve success in society on the basis of their ability.
  • Skills Provision - education teaches the skills required by a modern industrial society. These may be general skills that everyone needs, such as literacy and numeracy, or the specific skills needed for particular occupations.
  • Socialisation - education helps to maintain society by socialising young people into key cultural values, such as achievement, individualism, competition, equality of opportunity, social solidarity, democracy and religious morality.

This can be remembered through RASPS

Functionalists see education as turning people into model citizens.

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Education - Functionalism

Criticisms of Functionalism

There are two main criticisms and these are:

  • Functionalism assumes that all pupils start from the same point - whereas some children start off being advantaged because they have come from privileged backgrounds where they have cultural advantages.
  • It also assumes a value consensus where everyone agrees about the most important jobs and shares the same values to be transmitted through society by schools.


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Education - Marxism

Marxist- the role of education

The marxist view of education is that:

  • Education is an idealogical state apparatus
  • Its function is to maintain, legitimate and reproduce generation by generation, class inequalities in wealth and power, by transmitting ruling class or capitalist views disguised as common values.
  • Althusser argues that this is done through the hidden curriculum
  • The hidden curriculum teaches conformity to the capitalist system and acceptance of failure and inequality in working class people thorugh schooling.

Marxists see education merely turn working class children into conformist workers.

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Education - Marxism

Criticisms of the Marxist view

There are two main criticisms:

  • There is lack of actual research into schools to back up these views. This view assumes that all pupils are being influenced by the hidden curriculum but pupils are not always passive and often will disregard rules and teachers.
  • Bowles and Gintis ignore the influence of formal curriculum, which does not seem designed to promote the ideal employee for capitalism and develop uncritical passive behaviour. Subjects such as Sociology produce critical thinkers, while work related courses remain of relatively low status. There seems to be a lack of correspondence where the formal curriculum is concerned.
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Education - Sociologists

Supportive sociologists

Support for Functionalism-

  • Emile Durkheim (1858 - 1917) - Social solidarity (everyone agrees to the same values)
  • Talcott Parsons - Meritocracy
  • Davis and Moore - Role Allocation

Support for Marxism -

  • Althusser
  • Bowles and Gintis (1976) - Correspondence theory
  • Paul Willis (1977) - Learning to Labour
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Fyzah :p


Thank you so much!! This is amazing ^_^



year i agree

...its absiltely amazing

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