Asses the Functionalist Role of Education in Society Essay

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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.
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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, whereas a son of the same age may not. On the other hand, in school and wider society, a person status is achieved. So one has to work in order to go higher. For example, at work we gain promotion or get the sack on the strength of how good we are at our job, while at school we pass or fail through our own individual efforts. Parsons sees school as preparing us to move from the family to wider society because they are both based on meritocratic principles, thus everyone is given equal
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