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The Role of Education in Modern Society

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The Role of Education in Modern Society

Functionalism is based on the notion of social consensus. They see
society as consisting of distinguishable parts. All these parts have a
clear role, which is to fulfil functions, which keeps the society
whole and orderly. As applied to education, functionalists view the
education system as fulfilling the important function of
socialisation. E.g. the curriculum taught at school should reflect the
common culture to ensure that pupils, who are all members of society,
will act out their particular roles in society’s interests. According
to the functionalist, education also transmits society’s norms and
values, which promotes value consensus. Not only do functionalists see
the various parts of society fulfilling functions they also see them
working together. In the case of educational system, it’s often seen
working together with the economical system as schools develop the
skills required for the world of work.

Naturally, functionalist have been criticised for their optimistic
nature. Functionalists have been criticised for tending to assume the
educational system is a meritocracy where pupils have an equal chance.
However, evidence indicates that that isn’t true. E.g. working class
and ethnic minority still underachieve. Also the educational system
confirms pupils in their social positions rather than provide
opportunities for achievement. E.g. middle class people get middle
class jobs.

One functionalist that is transmitting this view is Durkheim. Durkheim
saw the main function of education as transmitting society’s norms and
values. It’s vital for all societies to create social solidarity...

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compete these positions and only the talented will win through.

Davis and Moore have been criticised for assuming that those who
graduate from school will end up with the top jobs. Income is only
weakly linked to educational attainment-you don’t always get what jobs
you want. Also evidence suggests that social class prevents the
education system from efficiently grading individuals in terms of

To conclude this essay, the functionalists have identified education
as a crucial part of the socialisation process as it transmits and
re-inforces society’s norms and values, prepares children for adult
roles and selects young people in terms of their abilities for crucial
roles. However, their views have been criticised for various reasons
mainly for being to optimistic in how the educational system operates.

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