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Assess the usefulness of functionalist approaches to the understanding of the role of education in society.

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Katie Fryer 12M Assess the usefulness of functionalist approaches to the understanding of the role of education in society. Education is one aspect of socialization, it often helps to shape beliefs and moral values. Functionalist analysis in general tends to focus on the positive contributions this is also true for the functionalist view of education, which tends to focus on the positive contributions made by education to the maintenance of the social system. How useful are the functionalist approaches to the understanding of the role in society though? Emile Durkheim was the first functionalist and used biological analogy. An example of biological analogy in practice would be education being linked to the family and kinship, power and politics, culture and community and also economy. According to Durkheim the major role of education was the transmission of societies norms and values. ...read more.


This is also true of Marxists views on education. Sir David Hargreaves says how there are social relations in a school. Middle class families appear to be pro school whereas the working class families appear to be anti school. Hargreaves argues that many schools fail to produce a sense of dignity for working-class pupils. They will therefore tend to rebel and may form subcultures which reject the values of the school, and therefore of the wider society. There are different views on education within functionalism. Although Durkheim and Hargreaves both criticize education based upon individual competition in an exam system, other functionalists see competition as a vital aspect of modern education. Davis and Moore see education as a means of role allocation. Different occupations require different skills. To gain these skills you have to go to a school Davis and Moore see social stratification as a means of ensuring that the most talented are placed with positions which are functionally the most important for society. ...read more.


Interactionism focuses on individual experiences like liberal. Interactionists believe that your view of yourself is produced through interaction with others. An important intertactionist concept is that of social roles. There are the roles of students and teachers within the school, these roles are not fixed in the interactionists eyes. If a pupil is unable to live up to the teachers ideal pupil then the pupil may form subcultures. Within these subcultures the role of the pupil changes, their peers reward the type of behaviour which teachers would punish the pupil. The interactionist approach to the study of education provides a lot of information about the day-to-day life in schools. It does however have limitations, some studies do not explain why a certain adaption/behaviour occurs. The functionalist approaches are better than interactionism and liberal for the understanding of the role of education in society because it is structural. It deals with the whole school rather than the individuals. Functionalism is therefore useful because people want to understand how education can fit in with the rest of society. ...read more.

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