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Compare And Contrast Marxist and Functionalist Approaches to the Study of Education

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Compare And Contrast Marxist and Functionalist Approaches to the Study of Education Both Marxists and Functionalists see education as serving the needs of society but they differ in whether it is an industrial or capitalist society. Functionalists see education as serving the needs of an industrial society with an advanced division of labour. They believe that it is important for the functioning of society that people are slotted into work and social roles that match their abilities. They see that pupils have their abilities and talents tested in schools so that they can be channelled into roles appropriate to their abilities and training, this is known as role allocation. ...read more.


Functionalists believe that this will lead to social harmony, stability and social integration. Marxists believe that this is directly in line with the kind of worker required by employers in a capitalist society. The French Functionalist Emile Durkeim believes that the school is like a miniature version of society in that schools teach pupils how to work with others in a social context. The Marxists Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis argue that like the work place schools are based on layers of authority, known as hierarchies. They see teachers as giving orders and the pupils are expected to obey. ...read more.


Bowles and Gintis argue that education does this by broadcasting the myth that it offers everyone an equal chance. Functionalists believe that education provides a means for upward social mobility for those who have the ability. Marxists will completely disagree with this idea and say that with the exception of a few individuals, education confirms an individual's class of origin, as their class of destination. They believe that education contributes to the reproduction of class inequalities between generation, and does not provide a means of upward social mobility for most people. In conclusion Marxists are interested in the way education works in the interests of the ruling class in a capitalist society. Whereas Functionalists are mainly interested in the positive functions education performs for society and in particular, for the economy. ...read more.

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