• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Assess the claim that the main function of education is to maintain a value consensus in society

Extracts from this document...


Using material from Item A, and elsewhere, assess the claim that the main function of education is to maintain a value consensus in society (20 Marks) Education has a number of functions within society, value consensus being one of them. Value consensus is a term which refers to general agreement about norms and values amongst the members of society. Different theorists believe in different functions of the education system, some think it as promoting value consensus and some see otherwise. Functionalists and Marxists have opposing views on the function of education which I will discuss in my essay. I will refer to sources from Durkheim, Parsons, Davis & Moore, Althusser and Bowles & Gintis. Functionalists believe that education transmits society's norms and values and therefore promotes value consensus, with the educational and economic system working hand in hand to develop the skills required for the world of work. Emile Durkheim provides the basic framework of the functionalists view on the education system, agreeing with its function of transmitting norms and values. ...read more.


Education works as the bridge to develop universal standards and shared values (value consensus) from particularistic values we learn from primary socialisation in the home. Education helps to ease the transition and encourages us to value universalistic values. In summary, it can be argued again that value consensus is the main function of education as universalistic standards are built from value consensus (agreement about norms and values). However, Durkheim suggests that another main function of education is to teach specialist skills. Durkheim believes that education should provide pupils with necessary skills to enter work as each individual must have the necessary specialist knowledge and skills to be successful in the social division of labour. Parsons argues that schools also perform another function: that of selecting and allocating roles in preparation for a meritocratic society. As stated in item A education socialises children to adapt to a meritocratic principle (which refers to the idea that everyone has equal opportunity and can achieve as long as they work hard). ...read more.


They introduced the correspondence principle which suggests that there is a close link between schooling and work places in a capitalist society. Both school and work places are hierarchies with authority figures such as head teachers (schools) and bosses/managers (workplace). This correspondence principle operates through the hidden curriculum; pupils accept the unequal hierarchy of society. Therefore some sociologists would argue that infact the main function of education isn't entirely to maintain a value consensus in society. In conclusion, functionalists argue that value consensus is essential for the well being of society. Schools play a vital role by socialising young people into these basic values. In western societies, school stress the value of achievement and the importance of equal opportunity. For example, schools operate on meritocratic principles. Functionalists also see education as 'sifting and sorting' young people, matching them to the future work roles that suit their abilities. However, not all sociologists agree that the main function of education is to maintain a value consensus in society. Marxists argue that education transmits values that benefit the ruling class, not society as a whole. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Sociological Differentiation & Stratification section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Sociological Differentiation & Stratification essays

  1. The education system is meritocratic

    think that it's possible but they just didn't try hard enough to achieve the top positions and in this way as Althusser talks about a docile and obedient workforce is produced because the education system of a capitalist society passes on the belief through meritocracy that it is fair and

  2. Assess the claim that the main function of education is to maintain a value ...

    Also Durkheim's view has also been heavily criticised; * He assumes societies have a shared culture which is transmitted through education. Countries like Britain are now multi-cultured and it is debatable whether there is a single culture on which school base their curriculum * Marxists argue that education transmits a

  1. Is the Underachievement of Ethnic Minority Children due to a Racist School System?

    gave to me, and also much of the more up to date research on the issue talk of racism instead of culture and family. It also seems that while the arguments for racism are very concise, the ones for other factors are dependent on seeing every family, every person in each ethnic group as the same e.g.

  2. sociology of education

    However there are other factors involved in determining a person's level of reward, especially gender and ethnicity as many people are discriminated on those grounds irrespective of level of qualification. One role of education as stated by functionalists is to provide the skills and attitudes which are required in the workplace.

  1. Assess the view that the main function of education is to reproduce and legitimise ...

    Linking to this example, the rise of divorces since the Divorce Reform Act of 1969 mean that the amounts of single-parent families are on the increase, especially female-headed, leading the pupil to be socialised into seeing their mother or caregiver as a role model.

  2. Outline and assess the view that the role of the education system is to ...

    Paul Willis work suggests that educational ?failure? may be partly the product of some working class students resisting dominant definitions of what constitutes ?successes? and ?failure?. The American sociologists Bowles and Gintis (1976) argue that the major role of education in capitalist societies is the reproduction of labour power.

  1. Diversity in Contemporary British Society

    is not too narrowly defined and which does not require everyone to be assimilated to a pre-existing model or to be forced into a single rigid mould. We also need to recognise that the character of our society is a dynamic and evolving one.

  2. With reference to sociological theories and concepts, assess the view that the main feature ...

    Different agencies of socialization such as family, education & media all contribute to this process. Another mechanism is social control where positive sanctions reward conformity while negative ones punish crime and deviance. As individuals are integrated through socialization and social control into a shared value consensus system, their behaviour is orientated towards pursuing societies shared goals and meeting its needs.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work