The Functionalist perspective of education

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Durheim: Solidarity and skills

Durkheim identified two main functions of education: Creating social solidarity and teaching specialist skills.

Social solidarity-
This is an individual member sense of feeling part of a community. Without social solidarity, social life and cooperation would be impossible because each  individual would pursue their own selfish desires. The education system helps to create social solidarity by transmitting society's culture from one generation to the next. School also acts as a 'society in miniture' preparing us for life in wider society. Both school and in the workplace teaches us to cooperate with people who are neither friends or family and we have interact with others according to a set of impersonal rules that apply to everyone.

Specialist skills-
Education teachers us the specialist knowledge and skills that we need in order to play our part in the social division of labour.

 Parsons: Meritocracy

Education acts as a bridge between the family and wider society. This bridge is needed because family and society operate on different principles, so children need to learn a new way of living if they are to cope with the wider world. Within the family, the child is judged by particularistic standards; rules that only apply to an individual. The child's status is also ascribed. By contrast both schools and wider society judges us all by the same universialistic and impersonal standards. Both in school and society a person's status is achieved not ascribed. Parsons sees school as preparing us to move from the family


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