Asses the Functionalist Role of Education in Society

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Asses the functionalist role of education in society The role of education is to educate individuals within society and to prepare them for working life in the economy, also to integrate individuals and teach them the norms, values and roles within society. There are many different sociological theories that differ within the role of education within society that attempt to try and explain how society or aspects of society work together. There are several perspectives on the sociology of education that are important. The perspective in which we are going to be looking at and testing is Functionalism. We will also be examining arguments and evidence against the functionalist perspective such as Marxism and the New Right perspective. The French sociologist Emile Durkheim (1903), the founder of functionalist sociology, identified two main functions of education; creating social solidarity and teaching specialist skills to children. By social solidarity, Durkheim means that he thinks society needs some sense of solidarity where members can feel themselves to be part of a single body or community. Durkheim argues that without social solidarity, social life and co-operation would be impossible because each individual would pursue their own desires and not work together. Durkheim believes that the education system helps to create social solidarity by transmitting society’s culture, shared beliefs and values, and passes them on from one generation to the next. He also believes that school acts as a ‘society in miniature’, preparing children for life in wider society. For example, in school and in work, we must cooperate with people around us that are neither family nor friends, such as teachers and fellow pupils. Therefore children learn how to interact with others according to a set of impersonal rules that apply to everyone. The other function believes education plays for society is teaching children specialist skills. He argues that education teaches individuals the specialist knowledge and skills that they need to play their part in the social division of labour. Not only does this prepare children for the work place and working environment, this also promotes social solidarity, in teaching everyone that we all have our own roles in society that must be taken up in order for society to work. Like Durkheim, Talcott Parsons (1961) believes that education acts as a bridge between the family and wider society. He sees education as the ‘focal socialising agency’ in modern society and believes that the ‘bridge’ is necessary or family and society to operate. Parsons view is that both school and wider society judge us by universalistic and impersonal standards. For example, in education, the same laws apply to everyone, each pupil is judged against the same standards. Whereas in the family, different members may be judged for different things. Rules may only apply to a particular child. Also, in the family, a child’s status is ascribed, this means that it is fixed at birth, for example, a younger daughter may be penalized for having sex at a young age,

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