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"Assess the Functionalist explanation of the role of education in modern society"

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"Assess the Functionalist explanation of the role of education in modern society" In this essay, the view that the functionalist sociologists have on the role of the educational system in society will be looked at. A general assumption of functionalists is that they tend to focus on the positive contributions the educational system has made to society. This assumption will be looked at closely as the views of some functionalist will be included in this essay. Functionalism is based on the notion of social consensus. They see society as consisting of distinguishable parts. All these parts have a clear role, which is to fulfil functions, which keeps the society whole and orderly. As applied to education, functionalists view the education system as fulfilling the important function of socialisation. E.g. the curriculum taught at school should reflect the common culture to ensure that pupils, who are all members of society, will act out their particular roles in society's interests. According to the functionalist, education also transmits society's norms and values, which promotes value consensus. ...read more.


Durkheim also argues that in complex industrial societies, the school serves a function, which cannot be provided by family or friends. This taught in school, where the pupils must interact with other pupils in terms of a fixed set of rules. By teaching this it will prepare pupils for interacting with other members of society in terms of the society's rules. Durkheim also believes that existing school rules should be strictly enforced as it teaches pupils not to act out against the interests of the social group as a whole. Hargreaves agrees with Durkheim on this matter. He has criticised contemporary schools for placing too much stress in developing the individual and not enough on the duties and responsibilities towards group life. Hargreaves argues that these schools fail to produce a sense of dignity for working class pupils, which may lead to the failure to develop a sense of belonging within schools, which can then lead to pupils forming subcultures that reject the values of schools and therefore those of the wider society Another functionalist that has given his view is Parsons. ...read more.


In other words, school is a form of role allocation. Davis and Moore who argue that the education system sorts individuals in terms of their skills and abilities also voice the view of role allocation. They argue that the most talented are allocated to the positions that are most important for society. Incentives (high rewards) are attached to these positions which means everyone will compete these positions and only the talented will win through. Davis and Moore have been criticised for assuming that those who graduate from school will end up with the top jobs. Income is only weakly linked to educational attainment-you don't always get what jobs you want. Also evidence suggests that social class prevents the education system from efficiently grading individuals in terms of ability. To conclude this essay, the functionalists have identified education as a crucial part of the socialisation process as it transmits and re-inforces society's norms and values, prepares children for adult roles and selects young people in terms of their abilities for crucial roles. However, their views have been criticised for various reasons mainly for being to optimistic in how the educational system operates. ?? ?? ?? ?? Shukri Ahmed Page 1 ...read more.

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