SCLY2 - Education and Research Methods Complete Notes

1.  The role and purpose of education, including vocational education and training in contemporary society.

ØFunctionalist and New Right views of the role and purpose of education


  • Durkheim – Social Solidarity – Functionalist; to bind members of society together – this creates social unity and solidarity. Therefore like the family, education is seen as functional prerequisite because it passes on the culture of a society particularly its core values.
  • Davis and Moore - Role Allocation - Functionalists; social stratification is an effective role allocation and performance, all roles must be filled by those best able to perform them, necessary  training for jobs must be undertaken and roles performed well by those with the highest ability to do so, positions of high day-to-day responsibility are most functionally significant.
  • Parsons – Secondary Socialisation & Meritocracy – Functionalist; education is a key component of the social body, just like the heart is integral to the functioning of the human body, education is fundamental to the health of the social body. It does this by passing on culture, secondary socialisation, creates universalistic values, provides training for future roles and allows for upwards social mobility.


There is evidence to show equal opportunity is non-existent in education. For example achievement is greatly influenced by class background rather that ability herby creating the ‘myth of meritocracy’. Functionalists see education as a process that instils shared values of society as a whole, but Marxists argue that education in a capitalist society only transmits the ideology of a minority – the ruling class. The interactionist Dennis Wong 1961 argues that functionalist have an ‘over-socialised’ view of people as mere puppets of society. Functionalists wrongly imply that pupils passively accept all they are taught and never reject the schools values. Unlike Davis and Moore. The New Right argue that the state education system fails to prepare young people adequately for work. This is because state control of education discourages efficiency, competition and choice.

New Right.

  • Chubb and Moe – Consumer Choice – New Right; Removing guaranteed funding from school and granting vouchers to parents which in essence means schools only receive money depending on the amount of pupils they have. This forces schools to be more responsive to parental influence and attract ‘customers by improving their ‘product’.
  • Conservative View – Marketisation – New Right; some people are naturally more talented than others. They broadly favour an education system run on meritocratic principles of open competition, and one that serves the needs of the economy by preparing young people for work. They believe the current education system doesn’t provide this as it is run by the state which imposes a ‘one size fits all’ uniformity approach ignoring local needs.  The laws of supply and demand empower consumers brining greater diversity, choice and efficiency to schools and increasing their ability to meet the needs of pupils, parents and employers.


Gewirtz and Ball both argue that competition between schools benefits the middle class, who can use




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