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

    This rejection however paradoxically, prepared them for their low skilled, low status, working class jobs and therefore still fitted in nicely to the ruling class scheme of things. Marxists are also particularly critical of the new vocationalism and YTS. Phil Cohen argues that these function simply to teach the capitalistic

  1. Report on: Lowood Institution for Orphan Girls.

    They have dinner there, but not breakfast or lunch. It takes the girls approximately three hours to walk there in the winter as they do not have boots and there feet get very cold, also as they do not have enough layers of clothing on.

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

    The fragmentation of tasks equalling to the short lessons. There is very little time in school to undertake a deep comprehensive study of each particular subject simply due to the short time in which it is supposedly taught, consequently leaving much of the study to outward influences like extra tutoring, homework etc.

  1. What are the strengths and weakness of the conflict perspective in Sociology? Illustrate how ...

    Corporations are reliant on their human resources and in order to keep that resource for their own purpose, they also need to contribute it . Dahrendorf also stated the influence of Trade Unions, which helped to create a balance of power .

  2. Examination of the Functionalist view that schools serve the interests of both society and ...

    The principle of achieved status is taught through exams & performance and universalistic values through school rules that apply to all. Parsons believes that schools and society are meritocratic, and as such all are treated equally and everybody has the same opportunities to succeed.

  1. What is education for? Critically evaluate the diverse functions of education with reference to ...

    The development of social policy during the Thatcher administration saw education transformed from local government control- which had its roots in social welfare- to a more centrally regulated market place commodity. This was a return to selection through tests and parental choice with central control of the curriculum This intervention

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

    Item A corresponds to the functionalism perspective. Stating that education mainly lies in the emphasis that gives to the links between the education system and aspects of the wider social structure just as Parson suggests. Davis and Moore agreed with Parsons that education is a way of role allocation, but

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