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Compare, Contrast And Evaluate The Sociological Perspectives On The Ro

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The role of education is to educate individuals within society and to prepare and qualify them for work in the economy as well as helping to integrate individuals into society and teach them the norms, values and morals of society. Yet there are three sociological theories that differ greatly between them on the role of education. These are Functionalism, Marxism and Liberalism.

Functionalists view the role of education as a means of socialising individuals and to integrate society, to keep society running smoothly and remain stable. Emile Durkheim, creator of the Organic Analogy, was a functionalist during the 1870's. Durkheim believes that society can only survive if its members are committed to common social values and that education provides these to children and young people as well as raising awareness of their commitment to society. Durkheim also believed that schools teach young people that they must co-operate with their peers and be prepare to listen to and learn from their teachers. Individual pupils eventually learn to suspend their own self interests for those of society as a whole, work together and that success in education, just like in society, involves commitment to a value consensus. Similarly, Kingsley Davis and Wilbert Moore, functionalists during the 1970's, believed that education is strongly linked to social stratification by members of society and that education 'sifts, sorts and allocates' people to their correct place in the economy and society. By rewarding the most talented and most dedicated by allowing them into the highest paid and highest status jobs, education performs the function which is always necessary to Functionalists - differentiating all members of society so that the system runs smoothly.

Like the functionalists, Marxists agree that education is functional in that it maintains the dominance of certain powerful groups in society. Unlike the functionalists, however, Marxists do not believe that it works for the benefit of all. Instead Marxists argue that the education system sustains one small group's ideas about appropriate forms of schooling and assumptions about what knowledge is. The system also maintains different levels of access to knowledge for different groups and thereby prohibits the widespread dissemination of knowledge to everyone. Bowles and Gintis, writers of 'Schooling in Capitalist America' (1976) believe in the 'Correspondence Principle', where they suggest that the hierarchy in work is similar to the hierarchy in school, particularly in the differences in social class between state school pupils and fee paying school pupils. Bowles and Gintis also believe that schools are no longer about the teaching of a subject but the Social Principle or control of the pupils meaning that schools concentrate more on the hidden curriculum than the knowledge process. Equally, schools don't reward independence and innovation, therefore meritocracy cannot exist within our capitalist society as capitalism is based on the principle of a ruling class (the bourgeosis) and a working class (the proletariat) and meritocracy would abolish the idea of the ruling class, society would be equal. According to Louis Althusser (1972), a French Marxist philosopher, the school serves to mould individuals into subjects that fit with the requirements of capitalism, they learn submission, deference and respect for the economy and their place in it. The school also works to ensure that the labour force is technically competent. Also, according to Althusser, the ruling class within any society exercises control over and through schooling and the Ideological State Apparatuses (ISAs). The ideologies themselves express the material interests of the ruling class, so this control over and through the ISAs maintains what is called class hegemony, or domination. Althusser is also draws attention to the powerful effects of the 'hidden curriculum' of schooling; pupils learn, he argues, a respect for the workings of capitalism, therefore, social order is maintained, and good workers are produced. The ideology of schooling is capitalisms key feature as teachers transform the minds of their pupils, therefore fulfilling one of the major social requirements for the perpetuation of capitalism, that is, the provision of a skilled and docile workforce.

Liberalism is unlike either of the other views; it contrasts sharply with the individual Marxists and Functionalists views on the role of education. The liberal view of education rests on the assumption that individuals should be free to determine their own destiny. Liberalism concentrates on the individual rather than society as a whole and that education should consider individual strengths not impose the same curriculum on everyone and presume that it



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