Education (1)


THE ROLE AND FUNCTIONS OF THE EDUCATION SYSTEM- and its relationship to the economy and to class structure 

Functionalist theories of education

  • Argue that the education system benefits both individuals and society. 
  • Argue that the education system is fair, meaning that if you work hard and are talented you are able to suceed, and everyone has an equal chance of this (a meritocracy). 
  • Education provides the skills needed to the economy. 
  • Education is an important part of secondary socialisation which bridges the gap between home and school. 


  • Saw the main function of education as the transmission of societies norms and values, which creates essential similarities between residents of a population. This creates social solidarity (commitment to society, sense of belonging, social units more important than individuals). 
  • Education shows children that they are part of something larger than themselves, and they become committed to their social group- particularly through the study of history as a subject. 
  • Within complex industrial societies the school functions where families cannot. It is able to provide a 'miniture society' where children can learn social skills away from family or friends- but within a safe community with fixed rules. 
  • Felt that school rules should be enforced strictly- with punishments given in order to reflect any damage done so children are able to develop self-dicipline and respect for a wider society. 
  • Education also teaches specific skills to pupils for the future which are important in an industrial society.


  • Assumes societies have a shared culture which can be transmitted through education, however now Britain is multicultural. 
  • Marxists argue schools express a dominant culture serving the ruling class ideals. 
  • Hargreaves; schools fail to transmit shared values and…


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