Functionalism theory is structuralist in nature and though its influence has waned over the past decades, it still makes important contributions in education system and society. Functionalism holds that the main objective of education is maintenance of “social order in society” (Chris, and Tony, 2006, p5)…
The paper tells that functionalism theory is structuralist in nature and though its influence has waned over the past decades, it still makes important contributions in education system and society. Functionalism holds that the main objective of education is maintenance of “social order in society”. To ensure maintenance of social order in the society, the theory emphasizes on indoctrinating new generations with norms and values contained in education curriculum. In United Kingdom, the sociological importance of functionalism has declined, but in education institutions, the theory continues playing a significant role in defining and shaping the guiding policies. According to Chris and Tony, the underlying ideologies of functionalism, which include competition, consensus and achievement through merit, define education in addition to politics in the United Kingdom. According to Hill and Cole, broad groups of people and their behaviour is the major focus of functionalism. In respect to the role of education in society, the theory focuses on several major aspects, namely institutional relationships and functional linkage with society and merit based systems. In relation to institutional relationships, functional theory emphasises on the role of education in linking other social institutions such as family with occupational engagements. In contemporary society, Cole argues education plays an important role in linking the basic unit of society with the workplaces through various mechanisms. For instance, education institutions develop the capacities of human resources through training. By setting various criteria for training of these professionals, education institutions ensure that the society has a balanced pool of human resources to meet its needs (David and Barry 1985). At personal or individual levels, functionalism theory holds that education acts as an agent of secondary socialisation (Gillborn, and Mirza, 2000). By expanding or broadening individual experience through education, a child is prepared to take over the role of an adult in workplaces and society (Arum, and Beattie, 2000, p72). Meritocracy, in functionalist perspective plays a major role in ensuring that education performs its role in socialisation and promoting institutional linkage. According to, David and Barry (1985, p53), meritocracy refers to a system that “offers rewards to an individual based on ability and effort”. Examples of rewards in the current society include job opportunities, high remuneration and elevated social status. Therefore, functionalists hold that rewards in society should be awarded to individuals who demonstrate high ability or effort rather than on grounds of nepotism, status of an individual or family background. In education, meritocracy has created competition in different levels of education because of various rewards offered on attaining a particular level. In United Kingdom, education qualifications at various levels such as GCSE and A levels determine the career that an individual can pursue or qualification for admission in available institutions of higher learning (Cole, 2009, p269). In ...
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