Outline some of the functions that the education system may perform. (300 words/ 12 marks)
There are a variety of many different sociological perspectives such as Marxist, Functionalists and the New Rights, which view the functions of the education system very differently. Functionalist view education as creating a consensus where as Marxists considers education as playing an ideological role.
Functionalists believe that everything in society has a function in order for it to run smoothly. They also believe that society is based on a consensus; an agreement that we are all brought up on, with certain norms and values. Functionalists specifies 3 main function of the education system these include: economic function, allocation function and as a socialising function. The education system fulfills the economic function by giving the student the qualifications and through the hidden curriculum prepares young people into their roles in society as loyal adult citizens; this links to Durkheim’s argument that the education system teaches specialist skills and knowledge. The allocation function is when schools allocate roles to pupils based on ability. Parsons argued that this allocation of positions within the school is based on a meritocracy, rewards are achieved through own efforts and abilities. The socialising function within the education system is seen as creating social solidarity, a collective conscience. Durkhiem argued: “To become attached to society, the child must feel in it something is real, alive and powerful, which dominates the person and to which he owes the best part of himself.” So school acts as a ‘miniature society’ preparing us for life in wider society.
These functionalists functions of the education system have been critisised from evidence of different achievement in terms of gender, class and ethnicity this suggests education is not meritocratic (Willis – Marxist). Functionalists allocation function is often critisied as it is...
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