Using Material from Item a and Elsewhere, Assess the Claim That ‘the Main Function of Education Is to Maintain a Value Consensus in Society’

In: Social Issues

Submitted By hollier123
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The role of education in society is seen by many different people in many different ways. This is due to the fact that different sociologists hold different and conflicting views. Functionalists tend to believe that society is based on a shared culture of similar values and norms; as Item A mentions ‘Schools play a vital role by socializing young people into these basic values.’ Whereas, a different approach to education is one of Marxists, who believe that education ‘transports values that benefit the ruling class not society as a whole’. It is a complicated argument as many questions could be raised by both viewpoints as to what the true purpose of education is.
Firstly, Functionalists argue that the main function of education is to maintain a value consensus. Durkheim agreed that education performs the function of creating social solidarity; where individual members in society feel that they are part of a community. The education system has a curriculum which teaches all pupils the country’s history, giving them a sense of shared culture and British tradition. This prepares us for wider society as we are held together by this shared culture through committing to the same values. However, a criticism of this curriculum is that even though it brings social solidarity, it ignores multiculturalism which can result in ethnic minorities becoming disadvantaged and therefore underachieving. This could mean that individuals in society are not simply agreeing to the same values but are forced to commit to help maintain society.
But do functionalists just view education through ‘rose tinted glasses’? Marxists would disagree with this view of social solidarity and suggest that the role of education is to prevent revolution and maintain capitalism by oppressing pupils through class division and capitalist exploitation. Althusser argues that the education system acts as an…...

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