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Analysis: Durkheim thought schools were one of the few institutions which could promote solidarity at a national level – he may have a point.It is difficult to imagine any other institution which governments could use to socialise individuals in to a sense of national identity.An A-level sociology essay written for the AQA’s 7192 (1) specification, exam paper 1.
Functionalism has received criticism for neglecting the negative functions of an event, such as divorce.
Critics also claim that the perspective justifies the status quo and complacency on the part of society's members.
That is, the family is dependent upon the school to help children grow up to have good jobs so that they can raise and support their own families.
In the process, the children become law-abiding, taxpaying citizens, who in turn support the state.
Functionalism does not encourage people to take an active role in changing their social environment, even when such change may benefit them.
Instead, functionalism sees active social change as undesirable because the various parts of society will compensate naturally for any problems that may arise.In a successful or ‘healthy’ society, for example, social life is organised so that the family socialises the young and meets emotional needs, school teaches us broader life skills, the workplace is where we contribute the economy.Functionalists generally believe institutions perform positive functions (they do good things for the individual and society).(Schools thus have an important economic function).Durkhiem argued that school was an efficient way of teaching individuals these diverse skills while at the same time teaching them to co-operate with each-other – schools thus instilled a sense of organic solidarity, or solidarity based on difference and interdependency, with school being one of the only institutions which could do both of these functions simultaneously within the context of a national economy.) However, it is debatable whether schools are successful in instilling a genuine sense of social solidarity into most, let alone all students.A minority of students are excluded from schools, and around 5% are persistent absentees – if students are not in mainstream education, then schools cannot promote a sense of belonging; while for those students who are at school, many are there ‘in body, but not necessarily in spirit.However, it is debatable whether schools prepare children adequately for work – for example, there is a shortage of STEM graduates, and many doctors come to Britain from abroad, so maybe the education system today focuses on the wrong subjects, not the subjects the economy actually needs to grow effectively?There is also a Postmodern critique from Ken Robinson that suggests that ‘schools kill creativity’ – a system obsessed with standardised testing hardly prepares people to go into the creative industries or become entrepreneurs, both of which are growth areas in the current UK economy. Related posts For more essays, please see my main post on exam advice, short answer questions and essays.If all goes well, the parts of society produce order, stability, and productivity.If all does not go well, the parts of society then must adapt to recapture a new order, stability, and productivity. And a new social order, stability, and productivity occur.