Assess Functionalist Views of the Role of Education

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Assess functionalist views of the role of education.
(20 marks)
Functionalists emphasise positive aspects of schools, this is the idea of a ‘consensus’ perspective; where there is an agreement about what is valued within a society. These are like Emile Durkheim's social facts or moral regulation in that they govern behaviour, and while they are coercive, they are also generally agreed upon where ‘The function of education is to transmit society’s norms and values’ . According to functionalists education performs a wide range of roles for society; these roles include purpose and the passing on of values which contribute to a smooth running society. It is believed that education presents formal curriculum by creating a skilled, literate, hard-working workforce to meet the economic needs of society done by the National Curriculum. Another form of curriculum that is included is informal curriculum which is the hidden aspect of school this involves secondary socialisation such as teaching students obedience, ethos and norms and values. Talcott Parson a former functionalist claims that status is ascribed in that it is fixed by birth; in modern societies status is largely achieved, the usual example being occupational status. Behaviour is measured against school rules; their achievement against performance in tests. This is applied to all students regardless of their background.  However could be argued that occupation reflects education and if ascribed a poor background can be given fewer life chance which relate to equality of opportunity. This is referred to as a meritocracy - success is achieved through individual merit. This links with functionalist’s views are that ascribed class can be changed by hard working and that social mobility can lead to adult meritocracy for which education is the bridge between. These are all roles of education for which functionalists agree upon.

The ‘New Right’ on the other hand was a huge reform and came by storm emerging in...
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