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Assess the Functionalist View of Education Essay

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Assess the functionalist view of education (20 marks)

In this essay, one will be testing out the functionalist view of education. Functionalism is a macro, consensus theory that has the idea that society is functioning well and efficiently. Functionalists believe education provides universalistic norms i.e they see it promotes the norms and values of wider society. One would suggest that Functionalists are bit naive in their view of the education system, as it could be argued that education doesn't benefit everyone, especially the working class.

The first functionalist concept, one will be testing out is the Equality of Opportunity. This means that all students regardless of class, gender and ethnicity are seen as equally important by the school and are all given equal chance to succeed. The functionalist Durkheim says schools stress the importance of equal opportunities. In juxtaposition Marxists would say that this is a form of brainwashing. Working class children are told they have the same chances to succeed as everyone else so when they do badly they have no-one else to blame but themselves. Material deprivation means they have little chance of competing fairly. One would suggest that the Marxist view is a little more accurate in its argument as it's very optimistic to say that everyone has equal chance to succeed.

The second functionalist concept, one will testing out is Meritocracy. This is the belief that individuals achieve according to their ability and effort. Those with most ability and work hardest will achieve the best results in school, and later on in life. The Functionalists believe this is accurate because schools provide this through an open examination system which ensures the best will always rise to the top, which then provides the basis for deciding who succeeds in society. One would suggest that this can be true in many cases, although one does think that money is a part of doing well also, without the right resources it makes it...

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