Durkheim argued that society has to feel a sense of social solidarity , he believes that without this form of social cohesion , society would be impossible because each person would pursue their own ‘ selfish’ desires. Durkheim transmits the thoughts that education transmits social solidarity by enforcing ones country heritage and history. This shared heritage acts as start of social solidarity for later life. He also believes school acts as a microcosm of society , expressing co-operation and interactions with colleagues. Talcott Parsons believes that school is a focal socialising agency, acting as a bridge between family and wider society, this is enforced because families and society act on different levels.
I will refer to sources from Durkheim, Parsons, Davis & Moore, Althusser and Bowles & Gintis. Functionalists believe that education transmits society's norms and values and therefore promotes value consensus, with the educational and economic system working hand in hand to develop the skills required for the world of work. Emile Durkheim provides the basic framework of the functionalists view on the education system, agreeing with its function of transmitting norms and values. He believed that for society to operate effectively they have to develop a sense of belonging to something, becoming 'social beings' with a loyalty and commitment to society as a whole. The education system creates this effectively by teaching subjects such as history, which enables children to see the link between themselves and wider society.
* Social Control- Teaching acceptance of rules and values. * The political role- Teaching people to be effective citizens. 2) How would functionalists explain the purpose of education? Functionalist such as Parson believes that the purpose of education is to perform a beneficial role in the society. One way to perform a beneficial role in the society is to learn the skills and knowledge from school that is necessary to work in a modern, technical, industrial society e.g.
Similarly the operation of any society is dependent on its social institutions as they provide vital functions which maintain harmony, stability and solidarity within a society. G P Murdock and Talcott Parsons are the main Functionalists of family. According to Talcott Parsons the family has lost many of its functions, but still has two important functions. The primary socialisation of children: children learn norms and values in their society from their parents, who teach them what is right and what is wrong. Murdock argued that the nuclear family was a universal social institution and has four important parts to play in keeping society functioning: reproductive, economic, sexual and education function.
For example they look at what education does for society as a whole not just certain people in society. Functionalists also believe that society is based on consensus, i.e. we are all socialised to agree on norms and values. Functionalists believe that each part of society has a function to make sure that society runs smoothly and everything stays in harmony. For example education has a function to make sure people are educated and conform to works place norms.
Outline the functionalist perspective on the role of education Sociological functionalist have identified education as a crucial part of the socialisation process as it transmits and reinforces society’s norms and values, prepares children for adult roles and selects young people in terms of their abilities for crucial roles. This essay outlines Durkheim’s, Parsons and Davis and Moore’s perspective on how education creates an impact on the structure of society. Durkheim’s perspective on the role that education had on society was that it shapes an individual and prepares them for the ‘real world’; beyond their comfort zone. He argued that, in complex industrial societies, schools serve a function which cannot be provided by the individuals’ family nor their peer group. For us, school is a miniature version of society as it provides us with skills that we need once we enter work or when starting a family also, the experience prepares us for interacting with members of society and the rules that society has.
To him, education is a ‘focal socialising agency’ acting as a bridge between the family and the society. e.g. the workplace. Generally, both sides operate on different principles and the child is needed to adapt to the universalistic standards and norms that will enable them to cope in the wider society. Parsons concluded that school is based on meritocratic principles whereby everyone is given equal opportunity, and individuals achieve rewards through their own efforts and abilities.
The functionalist perspective recognises that families perform vital functions for their members and for their society, to ensure stability and harmony in order to achieve social order (Giddens, 2009). Functionalists say that society is held together by social consensus, in which members of the society agree upon, and work together to achieve, what is best for society as a whole. Emile Durkheim suggested that social consensus takes one of two forms, one of which is Mechanical Solidarity – the sense of togetherness within a society
Haralambos and Holborn (1994:3) view the culture of a society,” as the way of life of its members, the collection of ideas and habits which they learn, share and transmit from generation to generation. Sullivan (2001:894) regards education in its general sense “as a form of learning in which knowledge, skills and habits of a group of people are transferred from one generation to the next through teaching, training and research.”According to Goldthorpe et al  a dominant society is a group of people with greater power privileges and social status, it also has an established language, behaviour, values and social customs, such traits are often the norm for that society as a whole. Willis  asserts that the culture of a dominant society is usually but not in the majority and achieves its dominance by controlling social institutions such as media and educational institutions. Bourdieu  views capital culture as forms of knowledge, skills,
Functionalists believe that society is held together by social consensus or cohesion, in which members of the society agree upon, and work together to achieve what is best for the community as a whole. In education, the functionalist view proves that society’s values and expectations are reflected in the system, and social norms are simply learned through interaction with teachers and peers. Functionalism has received criticism for neglecting the negative functions of an event such as divorce. Critics also claim that the perspective justifies the status quo and complacency on the part of society's members. Functionalism does not encourage people to take an active role in changing their social environment, even when such change may benefit them.