Education - a Functionalist Perspective
Emile Durkheim proposed an explicitly functionalist explanation of the role of education in society. The major function/task of education was, according to Durkheim, the transmission of society's norms and values. Durkheim considered that all societies must have means of passing on their norms and values to the young. If they did not, they could not continue. Such transmission then is a "functional prerequisite", and it is the educational system which has the job of carrying it out. Or at least this is so for modern industrial societies, says Durkheim. (In "traditional" societies - in pre-industrial societies, where no formal educational systems existed, this transmission was carried out by the family).
For Durkheim, a vital task which must be fulfilled in all modern, industrial societies is the welding of a mass of individuals into a collective whole - in other words, "social solidarity" must be created. …
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