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Functionalism Theory Of Education Essay

1389 words - 6 pages

There are three main theoretical perspectives (or theories) that represent the views of sociologist and educators, these views are the conflict perspective, symbolic interactions, and functionalism. Although all of these theories are important to education and society, I have chosen to focus my research or theoretical perspective on functionalism also including the effects functionalism and education.
The Functionalist perspective is one of the most dominant core perspectives in sociology and is an analysis of social and cultural phenomena in terms of the functions they perform in a social system. In functionalism, societies are conceived of as a system of interrelated parts in which no part can be understood in isolation from the whole. A change in any part is seen as leading to a certain degree of imbalance, which in turn results in changes in other parts of the system and to some extent to a reorganization of the system. The development of functionalism is based on the model of the organic system found in the biological sciences. (Anisef 2000)
The Functionalist perspective looks at education as a type of sorting station in which students undergo thorough training and testing so that they are given their appropriate place in society, this all depends on how well they perform in examinations. Functionalists also take into account that many societies come from a variety of national and cultural backgrounds. Their views also suggest that western society-based schools give awards on the basis of the individual ability, talent effort, etc. The function of education in a functionalist world would be selection. The education system selects people and allocates to them certain jobs according to their capabilities. The education system has different levels of socialization, primary schools sort people according to their general level of ability; secondary schools begin the process of specialization in specific abilities and, accordingly, direct some to work and others on to further education. Education is important in society; the structure and processes of education systems are related to the general process of socialization (Van Krieken 2000, p.191). Many sociologists may agree with this statement, but different sociologists have many views about how societies are structured, and they have different views about the role of education in society. In all perspectives, schools are seen as social institutions, but these perspectives all have different ideas on how they socialize people and for what reasons. At first glance Marxist and Functionalist views seem very similar. This is because they are both social structuralism views, but Marxism is a conflict theory, and functionalism bases itself upon consensus, paying particular attention to the positive contribution that education makes to the overall maintenance of functioning of the social system. These very crucial differences mean that the two perspectives take on two different branches of the same...

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