For example, achievement is greatly influenced by class background rather than ability. Furthermore, interactionist Dennis Wrong(1961) argues that functionalists have an ‘over-socialised view’ of people as mere puppets of society. Functionalists wrongly imply that pupils passively accept all they are taught and never reject the school’s values. Marxists, on the other hand, argues that education is mainly there to serve the needs of capitalism. Althusser, sees education as an ideological state apparatus that reproduces and legitimates class inequality, ensuring working-class pupils end up in working-class jobs, and that they accept their exploited role.
Parson's stated that education acts as a bridge between family and wider society. Meaning that education prepares young people to be independent, and develop so that they are able to deal with society beyond their families. To some extent, Parsons draws on many of Durkheim's ideas. Parsons see's the school as the focal socialising agency. Parson's said that both the school and wider society judge everybody by the same universalistic and impersonal standards, for example; the same laws apply for everybody.
Education is also one of the main influences on role allocation within society; allocating people to the most appropriate jobs for their talent, using examinations and their results from these. Durkheim views the education system as an institution that can create social solidarity. This is done by teaching students about the common norms and values of the British culture through the national and hidden curriculum, this enables people to establish a common view on society as a whole, therefore, in theory, creating a more harmonic society. In addition to this, schools create a miniature society, teaching students to cooperate, follow rules and respect their seniors. Parson views the education system as being meritocratic, enabling everyone to have equal opportunities, and success being down to individual desire to succeed and ability.
This ideology is said to be derived from having a society based on meritocratic principles where everyone has an equal opportunity that is provided to them in education and then in the workplace. Some sociologists would argue that, yes, the education system is mainly existent to select and prepare young people for their future work roles. Marxists see the state as by which the capitalist ruling class (bourgeoisie) maintain their dominant position and would mostly agree with the statement. Louis Althusser (1971) believes the education system is an important ideological state apparatus (an element by which the bourgeoisie can maintain their dominant position by controlling people’s ideas, values and beliefs). He argued that the education system’s two main functions are to reproduce class inequality by transmitting it from generation to generation and that education legitimates (justifies) class inequality by
Outline the postmodernist view of the role of Education Postmodernists take a diversity approach when considering the role of education. They argue that the Marxist view is outdated and that society has entered a new postmodern phase. Marxists believe that capitalism cannot function without a workforce that is willing to accept exploitation. They also see education as reproducing and legitimating class inequality. Postmodernists reject this view of Marxism, that we still live in a two-class society and the claim that education reproduces class inequality.
Functionalists view society based on consensus. They believe that education helps to bridge the gap between family and society. They also believe in the theory of meritocracy. Other theories such as Marxism often challenges their theory. Functionalists believe education is a key component in the construction of society, they also believe that it is one of the most important institutions and plays a major role during secondary socialisation.
Assess the usefulness of functionalist theory to an understanding of society as a functional unit. Functionalism is a consensus theory, it sees society as based on agreement among people about values, goals and rules in society, the job of the family is primary socialization. The family introduces norms and values to children, who carry these on to later years, where they are reinforced by religion and education. These norms and values allow people to move up the social hierarchy. For example, children are taught to conform by the family and education, which allows them to conform to the rules of wider society and become aware of what, is socially acceptable.
For example education’s function is to ensure that people are educated to be good at the job they will do after leaving school. Marxism Karl Marx (1818-1883) was a German philosopher who believed that material goods are at the root of the social world. According to Marx, social life is fundamentally about conflict over food, land, money, and other material goods. Marx believed that the ideal government would be a communist state where resources are equally shared. Like Talcott Parsons Marx believed that individual behaviour was shaped by society, but he also believed that it was the economic system that defined society and the place that people had within society.
New Labour govern with a pragmatic stance, concentrating on making practical decisions that influence the UK, as oppose to Old Labour who were ideological, and looked at the best ways in which to manage society and react to current events. A famous quote, used by ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1997 was “We were elected as New Labour, and we will govern as New Labour”. This signified the change in how the Labour Party acted. As a party formed for the working class people of Britain, Old Labour actively sough to attract the lower skilled, lower income members of society. The party designed and implemented its policies so that they would please and benefit the working class of Britain.
Assess the claim that ‘the main function of education is to maintain a value consensus in society’. The claim that the main function of education is to maintain a value consensus in society is portrayed by different sociologists in different ways e.g. feminists believe that to maintain a value consensus in society, patriarchy needs to be abolished. Different theorists believe in different functions of the education system. Some think it as promoting value consensus and some see otherwise.