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

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Chris Casanovas

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

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".  

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 homogenity".    Durkhiem stated that for a child "to become attached to society, the child must feel in something which is real, alive and powerful, which dominates the person and to which he owns the best part of himself".  Durkhiems view is supported by America where there is a common national curriculum, which helps to support shared norms and values and they also learn about the history of America.

Durkhiem stated that school serves a function in a complex industrial society that the family or peer group can't.  Children are taught to get along with those who are neither their kin nor friend.  Durkhiem saw schools as society in miniature.  Durkhiem also argued that school rules should be enforced and punishment which should reflect the seriousness of the damage done to the social group and should be made clear why they were being punished.   Durkhiem also explained that education teaches individual specific task, which are necessary for their future jobs.

David Hargreaves supported Durkhiem view by saying that schools place too much stress on the developing the individuals and not enough on the duties and responsibilities for social solidarity.  Hargreaves also noted that schools fail to produce a sense of dignity for working class pupils and therefore fail and may form subcultures, which rejects the values of the school.  Hargreave proposed three solutions to the national curriculum.  One was for students to follow a field of study where they have a special interest or ability.  Another view is there should be compulsory parts of the curriculum, which will help pupils to have a clear view of their role in society.  Hargreaves also proposed more teamwork and games, which will develop a sense of loyalty to the school and respect each other.

Durkhiem views on education are open to a number of criticisms.  Durkhiem assumes that the values and norms are of those of society as a whole rather than the ruling minority.   Durkhiem and Hargreave supported teamwork and criticised individual competition, however other Functionalists see individual competition as a vital aspect of modern education.

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Parsons was an American sociologist writing in the 1950s.  He argued that schools acts as a focal socialising agency, where school acts as a bridge between the family and society as a whole and prepared children for their adult role.  Parson are stated that within the family the child is judged on particularistic values and in a society the child is judged on universalistic standards, which are standards applied to every individual in society. The child moves from particularistic standards to universalistic standards.  This is important in an increasingly complex and specialised division of labour.

Within the family ...

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