Outline the Functionalist Perspective on the Role of Education

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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. He believed that school rules should be strictly reinforced, punishments should reflect the seriousness of the damage done to the social group and it should be made clear to those who have done wrong why they are being punished. This way, pupils would come to learn that it is wrong to act against the social group, it would also teach them to exercise self-discipline but more importantly that misbehaviour would damage society as a whole. Durkheim argued that education teaches individuals specific skills necessary for their future occupations. This is particularly important in industrial society with its increasingly complex and specialised division of labour. With pre industrial society, occupational skills were passed on from parents to children without the need of a proper education. Industrial society, social solidarity is based on interdependence of
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