Functionalists say that education helps society in three ways. These are; education teaches the skills needed in work and by the economy, that education sifts and sorts people for appropriate jobs (allocation function). Finally, functionalists say that education plays a part in secondary socialisation, passing on core values.
This is supported by key functionalists; Emile Durkheim, who said that education passes on norms and values and that education helps to create social order based on cohesion and core values.
Parsons agrees with Durkheim that education passes on norms and values. He also describes school as a bridge between the families and adult roles of society. He believes that education selects children for appropriate roles because it’s meritocratic. Meaning that the best students rise to the top that social rewards are allocated by talent and effort rather than being born into a position.
The other key functionalists are Davis and Moore who say that every society sorts its members into different positions. They think that there are rules for how education does this - called principles of stratification.
A criticism of functionalists view is that it doesn’t look at how education can serve the interests of particular groups in terms of ideology and values.
On the other hand, Marxists would argue that this view ignores the inequalities in power in society. There is no value consensus, and the culture values passed on by the school are those of the dominant ruling class.
Marxism says that education prepares children for the world of work by giving them skills and values they’ll need. That education justifies inequality. And finally that education passes on ruling class ideology that supports capitalism.
The neo-Marxist Althusser sees education as part of the ideological state apparatus. Bowles and Gintis argue against the functionalists view and say that the education system simply disguises the fact that there is no equality of...