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Using material from Item A and elsewhere assess the contribution of functionalist sociology to an understanding of the role of education in society.

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Introduction

F) Using material from Item A and elsewhere assess the contribution of functionalist sociology to an understanding of the role of education in society. Functionalists have constructed two questions to help them research education. The first question is. "What are the functions of education for society as a whole?" and the second question is. "What are the functional relationships between the education system and other parts of the social system". Firstly, Functionalism is a theory. A theory based on "value consensus". Functionalism is based on the view that society is a system of interdependent parts held together by a shared culture or value consensus (an agreement amongst society's members about what values are important). Functionalist theories assume the different parts of a society each have their own role to play (their own "function"), and work together smoothly in order to form a harmonious whole (macro). The metaphor often used to describe functionalism is that it views society as a body, with the different socialisation agents -government, media, religion, the family, etc., and, of course, education-being like the different organs in a body, each contributing in a different way to keeping the entire body healthy. Emile Durkhiem writing at the turn of the last century found that the major function of schools was the transmission of society's norms and values. Durkhiem stated that without "essential similarities", co-operation and social solidarity social life would be impossible, there needs to be a "degree of homogeneity". ...read more.

Middle

The hidden curriculum shapes the future workforce in the following ways. It provides a subservient workforce by penalising creativity, aggressiveness and independence and rewarding perseverance consistency, dependability and punctuality. It also encourages acceptance of hierarchy, students obey teachers, and this reflects the workplace where they obey their employers. At school students are encouraged be external reward just as a workforce in capitalist society are rewarded by external rewards. School promotes fragmentation of the curriculum; this is reflected in the workplace where specific tasks are carried out by different people. Further more education makes society feel fair and just. The workers are socialised to believe that equality of opportunity exists and that the system is meritocratic, this is called the legitimisation of inequality. Bowles and Ginitis reject the Functionalists perspective of Parsons and Davis and Moore that the education system is meritocratic, and deny that this can become so with a capitalist framework. They reject the view that we all compete on equal terms and claim that the children of wealthy and powerful tend to obtain highly rewarding jobs, irrespective of their abilities. The education system disguises this with its myth of meritocracy. Those who are denied success blame themselves and not the system. Their argument is based on studies that are conducted on people with their average IQs. They say that if education was meritocratic they would have similar outcomes; however they found a wide variety of outcomes. Bowles and Ginitis found that those from higher class backgrounds with average IQs did better that low from lower class with similar classes. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, Functionalists such as Durkhiem believe that schools operate on meritocratic principles. They believe that status is achieved on the basis of merit and that it's fair and equal for all. On the other hand Bowles and Gintis reject that education can be meritocratic within a capitalist framework because they believe that class background is the most important factor influencing levels of attainment. Bowles and Gintis also claim those children of the wealthy and powerful have a higher chance of obtaining a better paid job. This rejects the Functionalist view by Parson that everyone has equal chances and this is disguised through the myth of meritocracy. Both groups state that education has different purposes. The Functionalists prospective state that schools transmits society's norms and values. Bowles and Gintis Marxist view states that education's mayor role as the reproduction of labour power. They agree that education transmits norms and values but of the workplace and through the hidden curriculum. I agree and disagree with both views. I agree that a school transmits society's norms and values but I also believe that family and friends also help. I also reject the Functionalists view that school is meritocratic because not everyone has an equal chance and not everyone will achieve the same even if they have the same ability. Children of the ruling class have greater chances. Although Marxists have a better idea but need to take some ideas from Interactionists to get a clearer picture in my belief. Even though this each perspective has its flaws, we can become clearer on the actual contribution of education in society as whole. ...read more.

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