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The main function of education is to maintain a value consensus in society As stated in Item A, functionalists believe that value consensus, or agreed social values are necessary for the well-being of society, and this correlates through to education as well. For example, when you are educated, you aren’t solely taught about lessons, but you are also taught about responsibility, and how you are expected to act as a member of society. However, not all sociologists agree with the statement.
For example Feminists argue that the only way value consensus can be maintained is through abolishing patriarchy. Functionalist Durkheim identified the two main functions of education were, creating social solidarity and teaching specialist skills. He argues that society needs a sense of solidarity, without social solidarity, social life and cooperation would be impossible because each individual would pursue their own selfish desires and educations role is to produce social solidarity.
Schools also act as a ‘society in miniature’, preparing us for life in wider society, school serves a function that cannot be provided the family or peer groups and that individuals must learn to cooperate with those who are neither family nor friends.
He believes that education provides necessary skills needed in working life later on. Also, schools provide secondary socialisation, taking over from the family, to instill societies beliefs and values in children and this is important to maintain social order by ensuring value consensus. Durkheim saw this secondary socialisation as being the main function of the education system.
He says the school is a place where these skills can be learned. He also argues that society is held together by value consensus, and the education system and others perform their functions, and help maintain society as a whole.
However, Durkheim has been criticized, with other theorists saying he assumes that the norms and values transmitted by the education system are those of society as a whole. Functionalists also believe that education within schools, and the existence of the hidden curriculum, is positive. According to Parsons primary socialization amongst the family, teaches us to share views and social values, and this can be gained through schools. On the other hand, Marxist Gramsci believes that society is based not only on a class struggle for material capital but also for ideological capital, where a minority owns the means to produce ideological capital, which includes education.
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