Using material from Item B and elsewhere, assess the contribution of functionalism to our understanding of the role of education.
As said in Item B, functionalists take a very positive view on education. It is based on the view that society is a system of separate parts that are held together by their shared culture or value consensus. Each parts of society performs a function to help maintain society as a whole. So for instance education, work and religion are all separate but all have the same values of respect, hard work and compromise instilled in them so they work together.
Durkheim identified two main functions of education:
1. Creates social solidarity
2. Teaching specialist skills
Durkheim argues that society needs a sense of solidarity, as without this social cooperation it would be impossible to form society as individuals would become selfish.
The education system helps create social solidarity by transmitting the society’s culture to the younger generation. School prepares children for wider society as these interactive rules in school apply to wider society. Durkheim argues that another function of education is to teach specialists skills. These are skills that each person is good at. The production of a single item involves the cooperation of many specialists. This cooperation promotes social solidarity. Education teaches individuals the specialist knowledge and skills that they need to play their part in the social divisions of labour. For instance to build a home specialist architects, plumbers, builders etc. are all needed.
Parsons elaborates on many of Durkheim’s ideas and sees schools as the social socialising agency as it acts as a bridge between family and wider society. This is also stated in item B.
Within a family, children are judged by particularistic standards, i.e. the rules for each individual child. Similarly child’s status within the family is ascribed. By contrast in school, society judge us by universalistic standards, i.e. the...