Education sociologists


The Role and Purpose of education in Contemporary society. 

  • Around 13% of public spending (around 88bn per year in 2014) is spent on education. Full time education is compulsory in theUK from ages 5-17 (18 from 2015). 

Sociological perspectives on the role of education in society. 

The Functionalist Perspective

  • Emile Durkheim and Talcott Parsons identified four basic functions of education. 1. Passing on socities culture and building social solidarity. 2. Providing a pridge between the particularistic values and ascribed status of the family and the universalistic values and achieved status of contemporary and advanced societies. 3. Developing human capital; a tained and qualified workforce - Shultz (1971) originally developed the theory of 'human capital' which suggests that high levels of spending on education and training are justified as these develop people's knowledge and skills and this investment is an important factor in a succssful ecnonomy. 4. Selecting and allocating people for roles in a meritocratic society, and legitimising social inequality, Functionalists like Davis and Moore (1967 [1945]) see the education system as a means of selecting or sifting people for different levels of the job market and ensuring the most talented individuals are allocated to the most important jobs. They also suggest that in the educational race for success there is equality of educational opporunity; meritocracy. 


  • Marxists argue the view ignores inequalities in power. Theres no value consensus and the values passed on are those of the ruling class. 
  • Feminists argue…


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