Functionalist Views on Education
Functionalism has a value consensus perspective in sociology that sees society as based on shared norms and values into which members are socialised. Functionalism sees society as a body each part performs a different function to maintain the entire system. In terms of education functionalists are rather positive and that its role of socialisation is essential to society. Conflict sociologists such as Marxists criticise these positive thoughts and argue that rather than instilling the shared values of society as a whole, education within a capitalist society only transmits the ideology of a minority – the ruling class.
Emile Durkheim identifies creating social solidarity as one of the main functions of education. Durkheim argued that society needed a sense of solidarity i.e. ‘the individual members feel like part of a single ‘body’ or community, Durkheim argued that without this social life and cooperation would be impossible because everyone would only seek to fulfil their own desires. Schools help to create a sense of social solidarity by transmitting society’s culture from generation to generation. However a Marxist would argue that this sense of social solidarity and these ‘shared values’ are actually in place to reproduce and justify class inequality by indoctrinating people into the belief that inequality is inevitable and that they deserve their subordinate role in society. Bowles and Gintis’ argued that this indoctrination was a product of the hidden curriculum. They argued that pupils we’re indirectly being taught ‘lessons’ that make them accustomed to hierarchy, competition and working for extrinsic rewards.
Talcott Parsons saw school as the ‘focal socialising agency’ in modern society, acting as a bridge between the family and wider society, he argues that this bridge is necessary because the family and society operate on different principles so children must learn a new way to live in order to cope with the wider...