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Functionalist Views on Education

  • Date Submitted: 03/11/2012 02:48 PM
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Functionalists have a very positive approach to society and always see the good in everything. E.g.: they focus on the contributions made by education to society. They want to generalise their ideas to the whole of society. Therefore for education they look for what it does for society; not just certain people in society. They believe every society require basic needs. If these needs are met then society is functioning and more likely to last longer. They also look at how society is based on consensus so individuals must obey society’s norms and values.   They see a link between education and the economy in that education develops the skills needed for the world of work.
Functionalists believe the role of education is to teach the key skills needed in life to pupils so they can achieve the status they want or sometimes need for the future.

Emile Durkheim (1858 - 1917) was a French sociologist he was the key founder of the functionalist theory. He argued that the main function of education is the transmission of society’s norms and values. He believed that education had a number of functions for society.

First of these is making an individual members reinforce their sense of belonging and community this is known as social solidarity this is for them to believe they are part of a single ‘body’ he argues as if this was not here people would only think of their own selfish needs.   In education this is done in many ways, but it is seen as its best by uniting people and making them feel part of a particular group e.g. by giving uniforms or taking part in competitions brings them all together.   Also creates it by transmitting social culture, they share beliefs and values which continues of our culture in next generations.

The next role of education is maintaining social order; schools are a microcosm of society. Pupils learn how some have more power than others, and mix with people, how to follow a set of rules and which certain behavior will help them later...


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