Assess the contribution of functionalism to our understanding of the role of education (20 marks)
Functionalists have a fairly positive view of education, however they do say that if one institution fails then the others do aswell. It is a common belief amongst functionalists that all institutions such as education help to maintain social order by performing main functions.
Education in an institution that is considered an agency of social control which makes sure that norms and values are followed as they believe that by following these will prevent social issues.
Functionalists Davis and Moore said that the education system was potentially involved with social inequality. They ...view middle of the document...
Althusser who is a Marxist has a contradicting view of the education system, compared to that of the functionalists. He argues that education is part of ISA (Ideological State Apparatus) and believed that social inequality didn’t occur because of the need for role allocation in society but because education allows the Middle Class to always exploit the working class. He would argue that education is just used as an excuse for social inequality, and that education maintains capitalism.
Parsons argued that schools act as a focal socialising agency. Parsons argued that schools acted as a bridge which supported the difference between family life and society. He said that the family have different values which can vary from the rest of society, such as religion. In education, pupils are taught values used and shared by greater society, and universally. Parsons therefore argues that education helps to encourage social harmony.
Parsons also put forward the idea that in family life, people have ascribed status, which is the statue you are born with, such as being labelled as the ‘youngest’ and our roles follow this status that we are given within our home and family life. However, Functionalists believe that society is a meritocratic meaning everyone has the potential to achieve highly if they work hard. They believe that education teaches the move towards achieved status, which is earning a high status based on merit and individual skills. In school you are taught and must learn to compete for a higher status, and this is done by different tasks and activities such as sport, exam results and popularity. It is argued that this process is needed for later life when you must work hard to achieve the highest jobs, or denominations within a job. Functionalists believe that in society if you don’t work hard it is down to personal fault because society does offer a meritocratic approach and the opportunity to achieve a higher status is open to everybody. This is called differential reward for differential achievement.
A criticism to Parsons view is there is...