Functionalist perspective on education.
Critically evaluate the functionalist perspective on education.
The key ideas of the functionalist perspective is that society is made up of parts which support the system as a whole and that changes in one part of society (such as the family) changes other parts of society (such as education). For instance if we start having less children then the education system will be effected.
The focus of the functionalist perspective is on how a part contributes to the survival of the whole. The key to functionalist thought is that society is characterised by order and stability. Functionalist tends to be conservative in their outlook arguing that widespread social change can be very destructive for social systems. For instance in the industrial revolution in Western countries urbanisation and demographic movements led to high crime levels, increased suicide, and changing social relationships based on relations between strangers.
Functionalism emerged through the work of Comte, Durkheim, and Spencer. These early social theorists experienced the social changes in the 1800s. .
The functionalist perspective has often been termed the sunshine perspective. This is because it takes a pro-society stance. It can assume that because something exists it is functional for society. Poverty creates jobs for some workers and assists society to use all of its products. It is of course dysfunctional. It costs society much more. This level of theorising is useless. Functionalism does give us a perspective on society that we can use in daily life. In education meritocracy is used in order for individuals to obtain higher paid jobs with more credibility and social status. Education operates in a similar principle to the way in which the poverty creates jobs for some workers. This is because if everyone attended higher education it would no longer have the same value in our society, as it would not differentiate one individual from another.