Using Material from Item a and Elsewhere Assess the Contribution of Functionalism to Our Understanding of the Role of Education.

1422 Words Mar 8th, 2013 6 Pages
Using material from item A and elsewhere assess the contribution of functionalism to our understanding of the role of education.

Functionalism is based on the view that society is a system of interdependent parts held together by a shared culture or value consensus (agreement) amongst individuals as to what values or norms are important in society. Therefore they take a positive view of the education system. As item A suggests they see it as a form of secondary socialism essential to maintaining society i.e. the values and norms transmitted by social institutions and groups which build upon those learnt in the family (primary socialism).

The French sociologist Emile Durkheim (1903) identifies the two main features of education as the
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Durkheim argued that society needed a sense of solidarity, that is, its individual members must feel that they are part of a single group or community, reinforcing this statement with how social life and co-operation would be impossible without social solidarity as each individual would pursue their own selfish desires instead of working together to reach an agreement on important things. In his eyes the education system helped to create solidarity by transmitting society’s culture, shared beliefs and values from one generation to the next. For example, he argues that if a country’s history was taught, a sense of shared heritage and a commitment to wider social groups would be gradually established or instilled in the minds of children.

Marxists however criticise this view as they believe the values transmitted by education are not those shared by everyone in society but rather those of the ruling class. In some examples this can be seen when the ruling class creates a list of values which they believe everyone should learn in society.

In contrast to this school can be seen to act as ‘society in miniature’ preparing us for life outside of school. For example both in school and at work we have to co-operate with people who are either family or friends. In school

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