ESC3701 notes.pdf - Functionalism SED2601: Guidelines to...

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FunctionalismSED2601: Guidelines to help you with module content:Most importantly, you must have access to the textbook (Sociology of Education) and youmust work through your Study Guide which will assist you to understand the theories andconcepts (ideas) in the textbook. The Study Guide also contains exercises that will helpyou to develop your own examples associated with the theories. It will also help you toformulate answers in your own words.Please note that there is a Glossary at the back of the textbook (SOE) which providesdefinitions of key words.It is crucial to grasp the Sociology of Education includes several theories which try toexplain how schools or the education system work in society. The main theories you areworking with in the module are:FunctionalismConflict TheorySymbolic InteractionismChapter 4 also examines theories of race, class and gender.Firstly:What is Sociology of Education?Sociology of Education includes two disciplines: Sociology and Education.Sociology is a discipline (a large body of work, research) which tries to explain society(human interactions, groups, institutions, our relationship with the environment) and howsociety works.Education is a system or an institution which is part of society. In South Africa, educationis, in general, formal. That is, children go to schools and follow a specific curriculum.There are state schools and private schools in the South African Education system.So: Sociology of Education combines the study of society and schools and looks at howschools in society work or function. Sociology is the ‘umbrella’theory. The other 3theories (functionalism, conflict theory and symbolic interactionism) all fall under theSociology of Education. It might help you to draw this. Draw an umbrella labelledSociology of Education and put the 3 theories under it.Now work systematically through the 3 theories. Work with Chapters 1 and 2 in your textbook for now.Functionalism:Functionalist theory tries to explain how schools function or work in society. Functionalismargues that society is made up of different parts, however, all the parts are connected (arerelated) and have to work together for society to function/to work. This is similar to how a bodyworks: if one arm of the body does not work then the whole body is affected. The argument isthat the school works in conjunction with (together with), for example, the economy and they bothhave to ‘work’ (be healthy) for society to function properly. Hence, schools teach learners tobecome part of the workforce by providing skills such as computer skills and the ability to workwith and interact with strangers in a classroom, not just with their own families. Public schoolsalso have a relationship with the state: through curriculum development, funding, providingresources etc.

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