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Many things have altered radically since the pre-modern times. In industrialized nations, nowadays people all have experienced a process of schooling. The printed terms electronic communication, united with the formal education provided by schools or colleges, have become basic to the current way of living. As occupation becomes more distinguished and increasingly placed away from home, it was not possible for work skills to be simply passed from parents to kids. Traditionally, national education served economic and political requirements that dictated the function of education. Nowadays, teachers and sociologists discuss the function of education. And the aim of this paper is to discuss how functionalism in adult work-force education demonstrates the dissimilar sides of today’s society.

The Functionalism Theory

The functional approach concentrates on ways that education serves the requirements of the social order. Functionalists treat education in its evident role – conveying fundamental knowledge and skills to the next generation. Durkheim described the covert role of education as socializing humans into the society’s majority (Durkheim & Giddens, 1972). This “moral education” helped shape a solid social organization by bringing together individuals from various backgrounds, reminding the historical concern of “americanizing” refugees (Durkheim & Giddens, 1972). The advantage, which functionalists notice in education, is sorting - separating pupils on the foundation of merits. Our social order requires a demand that the most competent individuals get channeled into the most significant jobs. Schools classify the most competent pupils early. Those who obtain the highest grades enter college-preparation courses. Functionalists treat this process as an extremely helpful function in society.

Functionalists think that the education structure has three key functions. First of all, it socializes youngsters to the main cultural principles, for instance, fairness of opportunity, religious morality, and competition. Education stresses ethical duties in the social order that humans should have towards one another. If these standards were not passed through several generations, then there would be a trend for egoism. Religious education and citizenship were introduced as obligatory subjects in school to observe that youngsters did some things with thought for their social order. The second function concerns the skills that children may obtain in the course of their education. Jobs are starting to be more specialized, and this will lead to more years in the sphere of education. The last function of the educational structure, according to functionalists, is the assigning of roles of young humans in the social order. Examinations allocate individuals for the most suitable employment. The parity of opportunity took place, and the higher talented humans are provided the most functionally significant employment for the social order (Durkheim & Giddens, 1972).

Advocates of functionalism point to the paradoxical double role of education in changing and maintaining the culture. Researches demonstrate that, as pupils progress in college, they often become liberal as they come across lots of perspectives. Therefore, more educated humans are traditionally more liberal, whilst less educated individuals tend to the conservatism (Durkheim & Giddens, 1972).

Functionalists accept the opinion that the social order should be divided into groups, every of which performs an assignment, which is required to the survival of society in general. The society works well when individuals accept internally the requirement to contribute to organic functioning of the entire society. Human beings agree with it voluntarily as they recognize there is no mere alternative to society. When individuals accept the role in the social order, they evolve a type of social conscience, which Durkheim calls the “conscience collective” (Durkheim & Giddens, 1972). Various people discover various roles in society, but the people’s chances are considerably influenced by the class situation. Functionalists treat the educational system as reasonable and as preparing human beings to play their roles in the adult society according to the capabilities. Education socializes young children for adult roles from the early years. The “imperative” schooling purposely causes kids to internalize the social standards and values at a degree that a family alone cannot accomplish (Durkheim & Giddens, 1972).

Functionalists think the demands of industrial civilization for a skilled labor force are met by an educational system (Sargent, 1994). In criticism of functionalism:

1. Functionalism does not seem to suggest a satisfactory explanation of conflict within the educational systems. The goals of education are not agreed by professionals and workers within it.

2. It fails to cope sufficiently with the content of a curriculum and educator-student interaction.

3. It treats human beings as if they were "puppets" of the social order.

4. Functionalists idealize current social order and neglect facts that are critical of their views.

Perspectives on Poverty

There are many various opinions on the question why poverty exists. Functionalists regard everything in the social order as possessing a certain function, like organs in the organism. Everything works together for the whole. The poverty is no exception, if it is a part of the social order, it must possess a function. According to the functionalists, the poverty has two key functions. First of all, it performs as the motivator in the meaning that it provides the forewarning. Individuals are likely to wish to work harder and achieve something in living if there is a strong ground. Is there a better ground than not wishing to pass away in poverty? People realize what the poverty is like. Not to be poor is a perfect ground for working harder. The poverty also evolves a type of “feel good aspect” (Feinberg & Soltis, 2004). All people have to be capable to estimate how well they are doing and also feel that the hard work is actually worth it. One look at humans in poverty helps to realize that you are doing well, and it could be worse.

The Cycles of Poverty or Prosperity

According to functionalists, the cycle is quite simple. It suggests the poor people are constrained by their circumstances. For instance, a kid is born in a poor family. As the entire family is poor, all relatives are likely to inhabit the poorest district. The child will obviously go to school in the poor district, but schools in the poor districts are usually poor schools. This is combined with the fact that the child’s parents are most likely uneducated (which is why parents are so poor with a low paid employment), and so, the youngster obtains little or no support and studies badly at school. With little or no qualifications and skills, this young boy or girl will grow up with a small number of job opportunities and will be limited to the work with the low salary. Therefore, the child remains in poverty. Probably, the youngster will meet someone in the district (also poor) and have own children. As the new family is poor, parents and their children have to inhabit the same district, and thus, their kids will go to a poor school, and this cycle goes on (Halsey, Heath and Ridge, 1980).

According to Cobb and Sennet, functionalists think that the idea that the capability only decides who is rewarded is wrong (Cobb & Sennett, 1993). Many capable pupils from working class backgrounds fail to obtain satisfactory grades in school and thus fail to accomplish the position they deserve. This is due to the fact that the middle class cultural experiences, which are provided at the school, can be opposite to the experiences working-class kids obtain at home. In other words, working class youngsters are not sufficiently prepared to study at school. They are thus “cooled out” from the school with the least education, so, they get the least attractive employment and remain the same working class (Cobb & Sennett, 1993). If a person gets born in the wealthy family, he or she is more likely to have the best opportunities in life as he or she also confirms the cycle of the pervious generations of his family. Sargent confirms the cycle asserting schooling supports permanence that, in turn, supports the social order (Sargent, 1994). This process, in which some pupils were characterized and labeled educational malfunctions, was an essential activity that one part of the social order – education – performed for the whole. Yet the structural functionalist opinion asserts this social order, this permanence, is what most humans wish (Sargent, 1994).

Humans should learn to collaborate with other people who are neither their kin nor friends. The schooling gives the context where these skills may be obtained. For it, it is the social order in miniature, a pattern of a social system. Within a family, the youngster is treated and judged mainly in terms of particularistic standards. Relatives treat the kid as the particular kid rather than judging him or her in terms of indexes or measures that may be applied to each human being. Yet in the larger social order the human being is judged and treated in terms of universalistic principles that are related to all people, regardless of the relationship connections.

Within the family unit, the kid’s position is recognized – it is settled by his or her birth. Nevertheless, in the advanced society, position and status in adult living are mainly accomplished; for instance, when humans accomplish the occupational position. Therefore, a youngster should move from the particularistic model and recognized position of a family to the general pattern and accomplished position of the adult society. The school prepares youngsters for the shift. It creates universalistic standards in terms of which all students accomplish the position. Their behavior is appraised against a yardstick of school regulations, and their accomplishment is estimated by examination. The same principles are applied to all students in spite of the recognized characteristics; for instance, family background, sex, race, or class of the origin. School operates on meritocratic ideas. Status is obtained on the foundation of the merit (Heath & Sullivan, 2011).

Social harmony is one more factor, which functionalists think is required in the teaching. Social harmony is where humans should feel themselves a part of the sole community. Schools commonly attempt to create a community that parents and future students wish to become a part. They also develop a value consensus that is a set of basic values that the educational community abides by. Functionalists treat this advantageous pupil as the educational system, which transmits the culture of society from one generation to the next one. Durkheim, for instance, asserts the teaching of a nation’s history develops in kids a feeling of a shared inheritance resulting in the socialization (Durkheim & Giddens, 1972). Education assists in maintaining the society by socializing youngsters into values of accomplishment, competition, and parity of chances.


The functionalists actually think the social order leans towards the balance. Social health is the same as the social order, and is assured when practically everybody accepts the universal ethical values of the society. Therefore, supporters of the functionalism think the main aim of institutions, for instance education, is to socialize kids. Socialization is a process by which the novel generation studies the attitudes, knowledge, and values, which they will require as creative members of the populace. Though this purpose is stated in a formal curriculum, it is mostly accomplished through “the concealed curriculum” (Durkheim & Giddens, 1972), a hidden, but, nevertheless, powerful instruction of standards and values of a broader society. Pupils learn the values as their conduct at school is regulated till they slowly internalize and recognize them. Education must, nevertheless, perform one more function. As different jobs become available, they should be filled with the suitable employees. Thus, the other aim of education is to rank humans for places in a labor market. Those people with impressive accomplishments will be taught for the most significant jobs and in reward, be provided with the highest profits. Those who obtain the least, will be provided with the least demanding employment and hence the least profits.

According to functionalism supporters, the cycle is simple. The poor people are slowed by their own background. If a baby gets born in a poor district, he will most likely end his life in the same poor area. The poor school will never provide him with the finest education and with little or no qualifications and skills. Moreover, this young child will grow up with limited opportunities and will be limited to a job with the low salary. Therefore, he remains in poverty till the death. Also, many capable pupils from the working class backgrounds fail to obtain the finest grades in school and fail to accomplish the status they actually deserve due to the mere fact that middle class educational experiences, which are provided during schooling, can be opposite to the experiences working-class kids obtain at home. Thus, working class pupils are not well-prepared to the education. They finish the school with the far from the best education, so, they get the least attractive employment, and remain the same working class. In this way,education supports stability, which in turn, supports the current conventional social order.