Functionalist And Conflict Theories On Employment Prospects Essay

Functionalist And Conflict Theories On Employment Prospects Essay

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Functionalist and conflict theories are two leading theories on the idea of education and its incorporation into society, as well as the influence of education on employment prospects. Given that the future of contemporary society depends on the successful education of the next generation, this is one of many topics guaranteed to spark intense debate (Sadovnik 2011). Emile Durkheim, a leading functionalist, believed that education played a key role in creating the morals and solidarity needed for social cooperation (Sadovnik 2011), which aligns with the functionalist idea of an underlying consensus within society. Marxist theorists, Bowles and Gintis, by contrast, hold the view that ‘the structure of schooling is based on a ‘correspondence principle’ – that is, the structures of school like correspond to the structures of working life’ (Giddens & Sutton 2013, p. 872). Many conflict theorists see structured education as authoritarian, regarding the student-teacher hierarchy as degrading, characterising ‘student non-compliance with school rules as a form of resistance’ (Sadovnik 2011, p. 7), which comes from their idea that there is no underlying consensus within society, but rather an unspoken disagreement. Both theories see the education system as a way of maintaining the social order; however functionalists support this process whilst conflict theorists denounce it. The theories focus on not only the role of education, but are concerned with equality, inequality and gender issues within the education system.

The role of education can be explained using the two contrasting theories. Functionalism focuses on what compulsory education offers greater society; schools sort young people by their abilities, talents and capabilities, an...


... middle of paper ...


...most capable people reach the most privileged positions within society as a myth (Hallpike 2015).

The role of education is a debatable topic extending far beyond consensus and conflict theories, and the effects and results each method achieves. They address education’s importance within society, but are schools appropriately mirroring the later life the students will reach? Is there gender equality within the classroom, or is gender division and stereotyping continuing to set people up for careers depending on their sex alone? Is education really delivered equally to all students regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds? Many statistics show it isn’t, and ‘in large Australian societies, this has meant for some time it is possible to predict a student’s ATAR (or OP in Queensland) score simply by finding out his or her postcode’ (Brown 2013, cited in Holmes 2015).

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