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Purpose of Education in Society sample essay

Outline the functionalist view on the role and purpose of education in society

Functionalists argue that education has three broad functions. Education teaches that solidarity and skills are required by a modern industrial society. Solidarity is being together, treating people fairly and going with the norms and values of society and stop discrimination, without it there would be a state of chaos where there are no rules. In order to prepare yourself for work you need the skills provision to help achieve your goal. These may be general skills that everyone need such as literacy and numeracy or the specific skills needed for the particular occupation. As the division of labour increases in complexity and occupational roles become more specialised, increasingly longer periods in education becomes necessary.

You also need socialisation and meritocracy to maintain society by teaching young people the key cultural values, such as achievement, competition, equality of opportunities, social solidarity, democracy and religious morality. Parsons stated that education ‘bridges the gap between the family and the wider society’ – this is also seen in secondary socialisation where we are taught the universalistic standards which are judgments based on universally agreed principles, which is seen differently in particularistic standards which are judgments based on an exclusive view of a particular group.

Socialising children to adapt the meritocratic view of achievement is when and individual has achieved something on their own with their own talent and ability. Functionalists also say school is a miniature of society as young people are expected to follow some norms and values within the school which is then applied to the real world. They are also both meritocratic and believe in an achieved status- which is working to grasp your goal with your own talent and ability which can move you up or down the social class ladder and gives social mobility. Functionalists disagree with having an ascribed status which is being born into a social class which could mean you wouldn’t have to work for anything as everything is already there for you.

Davis and Moore are functionalists and believe that education is important for role allocation. This allocates people to the most suitable jobs for their talent; it does this through exams and qualifications. Education allows you to sort people into future work roles- some people are more talented than others- some work requires more skills than others. More talented students will eventually be rewarded by being allocated to these job roles. The human capital theory shows that a meritocratic education system is the best way to develop a skilled workforce to create a strong economy and higher living standards

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