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Compare and contrast Functionalist and Marxist theories of education

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Compare and contrast Functionalist and Marxist theories of education Education in schools have important effects on society which include transmitting cultural values and contributing to the social stratification. However, sociologists do not agree on how to interpret these effects. Functionalists believe education helps stability and functioning of society, whereas conflict theorists, such as Marxists see education as justifying and perpetuating inequality. Functionalists believe that schools transmit the culture of a society from one generation to the next and schools are there to continue the process of socialisation that begins in the family. Children therefore are socialised into sharing sets of values and culture, creating a sense of identity within a community or society, learning to have respect for authority and a sense of fair play or feelings of patriotism towards one's country. ...read more.


Marxists, however have opposing views because in Marx's view the ruling class use education to transmit its ideology to the rest of the population, as it is a far more effective means of domination. This ideology persuades the working class to accept its position, enabling the ruling class to maintain its power and privilege to perpetuate the class structure. In schooling in Capitalist America (1976) Bowles and Gintis claim that there is a close correspondence between the social relationships in the classroom and those in the workplace. This is known as the correspondence theory, whereby new generations of workers are appropriately schooled to accept their roles in capitalist society. Teachers give orders and pupils are expected to obey, having little control over their work. ...read more.


Whereas, on the other hand, Marxists see the same process as the installing of the ideology for most of those from working-class backgrounds. There are, however, similarities between them as they both agree that school is prepaying you for the workplace, both agreeing that conformity and obedience is encouraged in the school system. However, functionalists believe there is equal opportunity, as opposed to Marxists who don't. The two theories also agree that the school does not just teach the official curriculum. There is a hidden curriculum, which socialise you, but one says its there to make you feel bonded to society and the other believes it's to exploit people. Therefore the question continues to remain, is society meritocratic or do some start with an advantage based on their social background? ...read more.

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