Sociological Aspects

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Sociological Aspects of Education

SOC 101

April 24, 2010

Sociological Aspects in Education

The growing diversity in our society has helped to broaden the scope of what and how we educate our children. The scientific study of social behavior and human groups, also known as sociology, has benefitted society with its impacts from different theories (Schaefer, 2009). Education is the foundation of any society and establishes the social and economic wealth for their future. We will explore education from the three major sociological viewpoints.

Functionalist approach “emphasizes the way in which the parts of a society are structured to maintain its stability” (Schaefer, 2007, p.14). The functionalism theory was influenced by French sociologist Émile Durkheim, who stated that “education perpetuates and reinforces this homogeneity by inculcating in the child’s mind the fundamental relationships required by life in the community” (Hoenisch, 1996). A simplified characteristic of functionalism is to draw analogies between the biological organism and the social system, to view the societies as made up of component parts whose interrelation contributes to the maintenance of the whole, and to focus on the problem of order specifying forces that bring cohesion, integration and equilibrium to society. It leads to the belief that students should be taught so that they can work together, become interdependent on each other to obtain results as well as relying on each other to achieve growth, team oriented education and believe the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

Functionalist feels that education performs two major objectives. One being a “secondary socialization, the process by which people acquire the values of society” (Stevens, 2002). This allows for more successful relationships within one’s secondary group as well. The second objective view of education from a functionalist approach is that it prepares one for the variety of roles they will obtain in their future (Stevens, 2002). This viewpoint affects the views of the individual by having everyone work together cohesively and placing less emphasis on the individual and more on the group as a whole. Social change is promoted within this theory. The changing of social matters improves the individual, and each individual is part of a greater common good.

A functionalist approach to education viewed from society is seen as a sense of community. We are all moving as a group and towards a common goal. All of the teachings that are prepared, all of the lessons being studied have one goal in mind: a better functioning society.

The second sociological theory is the conflict perspective. This theory “assumes that social behavior is best understood in terms of tension between groups over power or the allocation of resources, including housing, money, access to services or political representation” (Schaefer, 2009, p.14). A simple view of conflict theory is that society is not best understood as a complex system striving for equilibrium but rather as a competition. They view education as a way of “maintaining social inequality and to preserve the power of those who dominate society” (CliffsNotes). Society is made up of individuals competing for limited resources. Conflict theorists perception is education is based depending on one’s ethnicity and racial status (Schaefer, 2009).

The conflict theorists declare there is a hidden curriculum placed on education by society (Schaefer, 2009). The hidden curriculums are “standards of behavior that are deemed proper by society and are taught subtly at schools” (Schaefer, 2009, p.315). In school, one does not speak without being properly acknowledged by the teacher. They are also time controlled by school bells ending when to leave one class and proceed to another. Conflict theorists view this as a hidden curriculum to make one focused on obedience rather than learning. Credentialisms or...
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