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The Main Function Of Education Is To Maintain A Value Consensus In Society

1562 words - 7 pages

“The main function of education is to maintain a value consensus in society”

According to Item “A” functionalists believe that a Value Consensus is essential for the well-being of society. A Value Consensus is an agreement among society’s members about what social values (such as getting qualifications, learning job skills, etc.) are important. Item “A” also stats that functionalists believe that school is vital because it socialises (this is known as secondary socialisation, this is where children are taught social norms and values such as respect and obeying orders through school) young people. Functionalists also believe that schools operate on a meritocratic principle and they see ...view middle of the document...

Durkheim argues that education teaches individuals the specialist knowledge and skill that they need to play their part in the social division of labour, therefore (Durkheim believed) the main function of education is to maintain a value consensus in society. Durkheim has been criticized, with other theorists (Marxists) saying he assumes that the norms and values transmitted by the education system are those of society as a whole while they could also be the values of the ruling elite.

Functionalists believe that education within schools, and the existence of the hidden curriculum, is positive. According to Parsons, primary socialization amongst the family, teaches us to share views and social values, but the specific views and values gained from socialization within the family are particularistic. In contrast to this, those norms and values taught within the education system are universalistic, and cover a much wider range of situations and areas. Parsons developed Durkheim’s ideas, and argued that education performs an important socializing function and helps to ensure the continuity of norms and values. He says that the classroom is like a miniature society, as it provides a training ground for the wider society and effects the transition from childhood to adulthood. Parsons saw a link between schools and wider society, schools help to select young people and allocate them to adult roles. Pupils are assessed in terms of their abilities and talents and so this helps to allocate them for appropriate occupations, therefore the role of education is to maintain a value consensus. However, the functionalist view has been criticized. Other theorists argue that it is far from clear that education in Britain succeeds in transmitting shared values and social solidarity. Parsons has also been criticized as like Durkheim, he fails to give adequate consideration to the possibility that the values transmitted may be those of a ruling minority rather than society as a whole and his idea that schools operate on meritocratic principles is open to question. Wrong argues that functionalists have an ‘over-socialised view’ of people as mere puppets. Functionalists wrongly imply that pupils passively accept all they are taught and never reject the school’s values.

In the view of Marxist Althusser the education system is an important Ideological state apparatuses (ISAs). He argues that education legitimates class inequality by producing ideologies that disguise its true cause. The function of ideology is to persuade workers to accept that inequality is inevitable and that they deserve their subordinate position in society. If they accept these ideas, they are less likely to challenge or threaten capitalism. Like Parsons, Davis & Moore see education as a device for selection and role allocation, but they focus on the relationship between education and social inequality. They argue that inequality is necessary to ensure that the most important roles in society...

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