Sociological Theories & Education
Introduction to Sociology: SOC 101
Sociological Theories & Education
Education is a social institution that has become a very import part of everyone’s life. It is a rite of passage for most individuals to pass through before they enter into the “real world”. In today’s society, without a proper education, there are many opportunities that would be missed, or unavailable, to those that make the choice to not achieve the level of education that is required. There are three major theoretical perspectives in sociology that have impacted education as a social institution in a vast variety of ways. In the following paper, I will explain how the ...view middle of the document...
Advancing through school, not only aids us in learning how to deal with others, but teaches us how to identify with who we are, what we like, and what our future goals are.
The functionalist perspective “emphasizes the way in which the parts of a society are structured to maintain its stability” (Schaefer, 2009, p. 14). Functionalists tend to focus on the ways that education will play in the survival of the society. The first thing that functionalist do is see education in its manifest role. They believe that education conveys knowledge and skills to the next generation. Emile Durkheim was the founder of functionalist theory. He believed that education sets out precisely with the object of creating a social being. He identified the latent role of education, which was identified as one of socializing people into society’s mainstream. It was called “a moral education”, and it helped form a more-cohesive social structure. This was evident in how people from diverse backgrounds came together within society.
The other latent roles of education that functionalist point to are transmission of core values and social structure. Core values reflect the characteristics that support political and economic systems that had originally fueled education in American education. This means that children in America will receive rewards for following schedules, directions, meeting deadlines, and obeying authority figures.
A benefit that functionalists see in education is something they call sorting. This means they separate students on the basis of merit. They feel that society’s needs demands that the most capable people get channeled into the most important occupations. Educational institutions are equipped to identify the most capable students early. Tools such as results of classroom and standardized tests aid in this process. The students who score high on these tests are put into accelerated programs and college preparation courses. Many sociologists like Kingsley Davis, Wilbert Moore, and Talcott Parsons referred to this as social placement. They felt this was a beneficial function in society.
Functionalists also believe that education plays an ironic dual role in both preserving and changing culture. There have been studies that have shown that as student’s progress through college and beyond, they are usually able to become increasingly liberal as they encounter a variety of perspectives. People who are more educated are generally more liberal, but people who are less educated are conservatism.
However, “where functionalist see stability and consensus, conflict sociologists see a social world in continual struggle” (Schaefer, 2009, p. 14). The conflict perspective “assume that social behavior is best understood in terms of tension between groups over power or the allocation of resources, including housing, money, access to services, and political representation” (Schaefer, 2009, pp.14). These theorists see the purpose of education as...