Theorists have long discussed the value of education in society as evidenced by the writings of Emile Durkheim, Pierre Bourdieu, and more recently John W. Meyer.
Emile Durkheim believed in the theory of structural functionalism and its ability to provide social order. Durkheim felt institutions were a social fact that made the machine of society work in an orderly fashion. Education, being an institution has a standard set of rules accepted by individuals. Schools provide social groups, making the individual part of a larger cohesive collective society that provides the individual with a social network. While Durkheim believed in an orderly society, he also recognized a need for an individual to be educated in a manner that enhances his aptitude for a particular skill.
Durkheim felt diversity in society helps us to get along and perpetuate order. However, Durkheim also felt that society can only survive with a certain amount of homogeneity, and it is the role of education to pass on social norms for future generations. Durkheim recognized that political and social ideals change over time and it is the goal of education to instruct on the collective demands of society.
Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of education was similar to Durkheim in that he also felt education’s role was the reproduction of society. However, Bourdieu felt that society operates within specific fields, defined as institutions. Bourdieu saw fields as systems of social positions structured by internal power relations. Fields are defined by objectives that the individual achieves when he is in a particular role.
When an individual fulfills his role, he gains social, economic, and cultural capitals, which are necessary for success. With education, the individual achieves a social capital that he can rely on for future advancement. Each class in society...