What Is The Function Of Educating Individuals In Capitalist Society?

2576 words - 10 pages

What exactly is the function of educating individuals in our capitalist society? Are we really educated individually, or is the system there simply to churn out a workforce to meet our society's growing needs? I plan to look at the views of this matter from different sociologists' perspectives, and examine the ideas behind the function of education - whether it really is a fair an just system, offering us all the chance to succeed, regardless of our background.What is education? Is it merely the act, or process of acquiring knowledge? From a sociological perspective, there is a lot more to it. Education can be looked at as a method of socialization - preparing us for life in society, and a system used to sort, sift and grade us on terms of ability. But is education unpretentiously doing this? Or are there factors of inequality to be accounted for?In Britain, the state became involved in education in 1833, where some funding was provided for religious schools. The industrial revolution had come about long before this, and children up until this point were used as factory workers. In 1844 the Factory Act required children in employment, aged 8-13 to spend half the week in education. In 1880 attendance to publicly funded schools was made compulsary up until the age of 10, and eventually, in 1944, free secondary education for everyone was introduced, and the school leaving age raised to 15 in 1947, and again in 1972 to the age of 16, the current leaving age.Emile Durkheim, a famous French sociologist, looked at education from a functionalist perspective. He felt that the major function of education was to transmit the norms and values of society. 'Society can only survive if there exists amongst it's members a sufficient degree of homogeneity; education perpetuates and reinforces this homogeneity by fixing in the child from the beginning the essential similarities which collective life demands. Durkheim meant, that which essential similarities and cooperation, we would have no social solidarity or sense of belonging, and so social life would become virtually impossible. In saying social solidarity Durkheim meant unity of individuals in society, who commit to and feel as sense of belonging to society, this social unit being regarded as more important than the individual, and it is education that provides this link between the individual and society.Durkheim also saw education as a system in industrial society, which outlined the social rules; what is acceptable and what isn't. School could teach the skills of how to cooperate with neither family nor friends, rules of interaction that cannot be provided by our kin or peer group, but which are required for the future, for the workplace. Durkheim saw school as almost society in miniature, a downsized version of the social system. Education is crucial to socialization, and teaches the necessary skills for future occupations, this being important in society with the increasingly complex specialized...

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