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Outline and evaluate Functionalism view of education

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Outline and evaluate Functionalism view of education Functionalism is based on the view that society is a system of independent groups held together by a shared culture or value consensus. This is an agreement in society among its members about what values are important. Each part of society such as the family and education system performs functions that help to maintain society as a whole. Functionalists see the education system as acting in a more positive way to keep society running in the way it should. Many sociologists have studied the role of education and argued that the education helps its members in ways such as language and academic skills. Emile Durkheim the founder of functionalist sociology identified two main functions of education. These were the role of social solidarity and how schools teach specialist skills. Firstly Durkheim argued the role of social solidarity this is that the individual members must feel themselves part of a single body or community. He argues that without social solidarity, social life would be impossible as everyone would pursue their own selfish desires and not work together to get what they want out of life. ...read more.


This bridge is needed because family and society operate on different principles, so children need to learn a new way of living if they are to cope with the wider world. Within the family the child is judged by particularistic standards and the child's status in the family is ascribed and fixed at birth. For example a young daughter and elder son may have different rights or duties depending on their age and gender. By contrast schools and wider society judge us all on universalistic standards. For example in schools all pupils have to sit the same exam and have the same pass mark. Parsons sees schools as preparing us to move from the family to wider society are both based on meritocratic principles. In meritocracy, everyone is given an equal opportunity, and individuals achieve awards through their own effort and ability. Nonetheless this approach can be criticised as it can be said not everyone as equal opportunities as one another. Marxists say the education system helps to prevent the poor who believe they do not deserve this inequality from rebelling by producing ideologies that justify why inequality is natural in society today. ...read more.


Also unlike Davis and Moore, the New Right argue the state education system fails to prepare young people for adequate work. This is because state control of education discourages efficiency, competition and choice. Even if a young child is talented it does not mean they have the ability to go on to hard labour at work as they are not taught these types of norms and values in the workplace. Overall it can be said functionalists see the state education system as acting as a positive role towards society and its members. They see the need for social solidarity in society today as then people feel they are part of society and will live a happier life. Everyone in education as the same opportunities as one another and this meritocracy in society is essential for healthy competition to continue between its members. We will always have more talented people in society who will gain the higher jobs as different individuals are seen as having the skills to be a surgeon while others have the skills to be a nursery teacher looking after small children. The education system just helps to show individuals what they can gain out of society and they are allocated a role on their ability to do a certain job. ...read more.

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