Assessing the Role of Education From the Functionalist Perspective

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Assessing the Role of Education From the Functionalist Perspective

Functionalists believe that education performs very important roles for individuals, the economy and the wider social structure. It provides secondary socialisation, passing on shared culture enables individuals to develop their potential and regulates their behaviour. Functionalists argue that education has three broad; socialisation where education helps to maintain society by socialising young people in to key cultural values, such as achievement, individualism, equality of opportunity, social solidarity and democracy.

The second one is skills provision in which education teaches the skills required by a modern
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An example of this is in American schools where pupils sing the national anthem and pledge their allegiance to the flag everyday by making tem feel part of the American society.

According to functionalists, school is society in miniature, where pupils have to get on with strangers and where they learn that status is to be achieved not ascribed as in the family. Parsons argues that the school acts as a bridge between the family and wider society, that is between childhood and adulthood, where children stop being judged by the particularistic norms of their families and are judged instead universalistic norms of society. Parsons also believe that the role of education is also to promoter these universalistic values such as achievement, individualism, competition and equality of opportunity.

Davis and Moore argue that education plays a selection/ allocation function, selecting individuals for the role that their abilities best suit them for and slotting the most talented in to the most functionally most important jobs in society, differentiating between pupils. Educational mechanisms such as grades, examinations, references and qualifications are used to sort individuals. Society is this a meritocracy in which people are rewarded for intelligence, ability and effort. Functional importance is decided by length and

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