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

Functionalist analysis of education

Extracts from this document...


SOCIOLOGY: EDUCATION The functionalist argument that schools serve the interests of the individual and the society can be supported. That is, we are focusing on education in terms of the purposes served by this institution in relation to the overall social structure of society. Mainly Functionalist, theorists see the role of schools and education as being that of an institution charged with making people different educationally and selection of individuals into adult work-related roles. Durkheim's theoretical position was that the education system should be seen as an agency of secondary socialisation. As the family is an agency of primary socialisation (performing the initial socialising functions required to integrate children into their immediate culture), the education system is an institution that "broadens the individual's experience" of the social world. It prepares people for adult role relationships. One of the primary functions of the education system in an industrialised society is that of socialising people into instrumental relationships. These are relationships based upon what people can do for us in return for the things that we can do for them. Therefore education serves in the interest of the individual. In Durkheim's terms, people have to learn how to develop instrumental relationships and the education system effectively serves this kind of function. ...read more.


Also the school encourages individual competition and the influence of social stratification largely prevents the school system from efficiently grading individuals in terms of ability this does not seem to favour the individuals. Theorists like Illich suggest schools create mindless, conforming and easily manipulated individuals. They are learning to defer to authority to accept alienation and to forget how to think for themselves. This then prepares the pupils for their roles as consumers to who the passive consumption of goods and services becomes an end in itself. This therefore means only society can benefit from this social solidarity and reluctance to question authority and routine, and the ruling class can keep power. For Functionalists schools can produce social consensus, involving shared norms, values, beliefs and so forth. Society, in this respect operates for the ultimate benefit of all and individuals benefit from the skills and knowledge gained to fulfil their roles in society. For Conflict theorists the emphasis is placed upon the ways that a powerful, politically and economically dominant, social class attempts to use the education system and schools as a means of reproducing their domination over time. ...read more.


The role of education is therefore to give people the impression the educational system is based on merit and to control and limit people's expectations. This is false class consciousness. The main opposition to this theory of ruling class ideology and false class consciousness is that it seems to state that people have no choice and conform to the ideas they are presented with. But Paul Willis has shown that people may have some understanding of the way they are treated in school and they may try to resist in various ways. Willis argues that many working class children do resist the ideological messages transmitted through the education system. Some may argue that education produces students that can see through the system and rebel against it. Overall there is a very strong argument that education is beneficial to the ruling class in a society and the ruling class can produce an ideology that all future generations will conform to thus keeping social order and control over them. This then can cover their true identities as exploited workers in the future. However education does not totally benefit the ruling class as it teaches pupils skills and values that may enable them to achieve a high status and may educate them into realising the situation they are in. ...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 Work & Leisure 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 Work & Leisure essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Critically Evaluate the Functionalist Perspective on Education

    5 star(s)

    The final major criticism comes from the Interactionists, who see Functionalist views as too deterministic, as they ignore the power of what they refer to as individual 'actors' to interpret and negotiate their educational experience. One of the main critics of the Functionalist perspective is the Marxists, whose theorists can

  2. 'The function of education is to reproduce and legitimate social inequality. Discuss.'

    the workers do not rebel against owners or capitalists, nor do the working class attempt to change the system that does not work for them. According to Bowles and Gintis, the pupil is powerless to the choice of subjects which they learn and how they are taught.

  1. Assess Functionalist and Marxist approaches to the relationship between education and economy.

    This made them suitable to semi-skilled or manual work they wanted to do. Willis followed the lads in their first jobs, he found similarities between shop-floor culture and counter school culture. There was the same racism and sexism and lack of respect to authority.

  2. Using material from Item A and elsewhere assess the contribution of functionalist sociology to ...

    There are a number of criticisms of Davis and Moore; one is that income is only weakly linked to educational attainment. A second criticism is that intelligence has little effect on educational attainment and also that social stratification prevents the education system from efficiently grading individuals in term of ability.

  1. 'Education is a tool of the ruling class'- Discuss.

    The way in which schools are organised was also looked at; everyday rules and routines were concluded as a way in which to transmit different messages to middle and working class kids. Streaming and exams were said to be there to convince working class kids that their knowledge and experiences

  2. Marxist and functionalist perspective on education

    This bridge is essential because the family and society operate on different ideology; therefore, children need to learn a new way of living if they are to survive in later life. In the family we are judged by the particularistic standards, rules that apply only to a particular child, for

  1. Do TNCs benefit LEDCs?

    Workers are often forced to work long hours; they seldom receive overtime pay, and risk being harassed, fired or even jailed for protesting for their rights. Multinational companies are free to locate where there are the lowest wages, so in order to maintain jobs in manufacturing, workers must compete to

  2. Outline and assess the view that the main purpose of education is to encourage ...

    Society many consist of various groups with different or even conflicting interests, each group having its own set of values. If the educational system does transmit values, they may be those of a ruling class or elite. Also Functionalists tend to assume that the educational system is a meritocracy.

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