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Functionalist View of Education and Economy

            In 1993, New Vocationalism was introduced into the curriculum. GNVQs and NVQs (introduced in 1986) were put into place to counteract the views that many 16 year olds were not ready for the world of work. It was hoped that Vocationalism would bridge the gap between the world of work and educational establishments. Functionalists argue that education is one of the most important institutions that pass on society's values and norms, creating a value consensus (Parsons). Education acts as a bridge between family and society, passing on universalistic values; these are the value of achievement and value of equality of opportunity. Equality of opportunity was a key message through the 1988 Education Act; most people believe that all children should be provided with opportunities to develop in an equal measure to those across all class/ethnic/gender backgrounds. Durkheim argues that education develops social solidarity, wielding a mass of individuals into a united whole. This argument is problematic because Functionalists assume that the norms and values promoted in schools are from society, however Marxists believe that these are actually transmitted from the richer, more powerful, groups. Parsons also fails to consider the diversity of values in modern society and neglects to mention those who rebel/deviate from the school system.
             Durkheim argues that modern societies are based on specialized divisions of labors that require great numbers of occupational roles each needing a specialized skill. As society becomes more complex, schools needed to become more diverse and education needs to develop and must adapt to meet the requirements of a capitalist economy. Davis and Moore (1945) state that education system allocates individuals into the most appropriate roles, for themselves and society, according to their ability and talents. This is done through the examination system which sifts and sorts individuals for their future careers.

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