Free Sociology Midterm Paper Essay Sample

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Education, Society, Students, Sociology, Economics, Conflict, Skills, Power

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/11/10

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Functionalist sociologists adopted the consensus theory, which is an approach that sees the society made up of individuals and social institutions working together in harmony, without much conflict between people and groups. Functionalists believe that social class inequalities are both necessary and inevitable . They explain various reasons for the presence of economic equality in the society. Certain jobs are more important than others in maintaining the society as they require specialized skills that not everyone has the talent and ability to acquire. Those who do possess the ability and talent in doing such jobs need motivation and encouragement to train for important positions that promise high rewards in terms of income, wealth, status and power . The difficulty in such a system of society is that there are many poorly rewarded occupations, which are vital in maintaining the society.
For example, a rich business executive can only become rich through the work of his or her employees, and a refuse collector is no less important than a doctor in maintaining the health of the society. Furthermore, not everyone in vital jobs gets motivated through high rewards. Individuals enter the field of teaching and nursing not for the purpose of money, but for reasons, such as job satisfaction and concern for the welfare of others. Thus, economic inequality affects the lives of individuals, including their wealth, income and work environment . It is measurable and continues to exist in the society regardless of whether people recognize them as important or not. According to the functionalists, economic inequality is important in the society because it performs the selection mechanism and acts as a motivational force.
Economic inequality is the basis of a market society since it preserves individual liberty and provides the beneficial effects identified by functionalist thinkers. American sociologists Talcott Parsons, Davis and Moore analyzed the ways in which the educational system functions in the society. In the case of unequal distribution of talent, the educational system plays a central role in the allocation of the most talented to the occupations that are functionally most important for the society . It implies that everyone has the equal chance to be unequal. Functional importance depends on the length and specialist training required for particular operations. For example, a brain surgeon takes much more talent, education and training when compared to a nurse. In order to ensure that people are ready to undertake long and expensive training, the rewards offered must be substantially greater for surgeons when compared to the nurses.
Functionalists argue that if everyone had the same levels of pay and status, no one would be ready to take on the more difficult and responsible jobs. Sociologists Bowles and Gintis discuss the relationship between education and economy . They state that the roots of inequality exist in the class structure, and the school system is one of the institutions that preserve inequality. Educational achievement is dependent on the socio-economic background of the parents. The association between the length of schooling, ability and earning capability is dependent on factors other than ability . The social class of the parents and the fact that ability improves the longer the individuals stay in the school are other crucial factors. While the intelligent quotient has an even distribution in the society, power and income are not even.
The use of the IQ to justify the inequalities of outcome places the blame for educational failure on the students themselves. Schools reflect the hierarchical division of labor in the economy through a correspondence between the social relations of production, school and family. The values and organization of the schools in grades, alienation and fragmentation lack control over the curriculum and the discipline. Bowles and Gintis conclude that the creation of an equal and liberating school system requires a revolutionary transformation of economic life . They encourage teachers to become effective subversives by teaching the truth about society, thereby encouraging a sense of collective power and fighting ideologies of privileges, such as racism and sexism. On the other hand, conflict theorists see the society as having many social differences and conflicts, with inequalities in wealth, power and status, all creating conflicts between the individuals and groups .
Conflict theorists criticize the functionalists for ignoring the role of the state and its mediation between education and economy. The functionalists were over-deterministic in viewing the students as passive receivers of ideology. They also ignored the content of the curriculum taught in the schools. Conflict theorists see schools as an important instrument in the struggle between different groups for power and status. They believe that the schools serve the dominant privileged class by providing for the social reproduction of the economic and political status quo in a way that gives an illusion of opportunity, objectivity and neutrality . Conflict theorists argue that the schools produce attitudes and dispositions required for the continuation of the domination by the privileged class.
For example, if a required course of study is missing from the school curriculum or if a child is having difficulty with a certain subject, wealthy parents can afford to provide outside help and tutoring. Poorer parents cannot afford to provide such help and their children rely on the public schools. While the intent for raising standards for admission into a college is to provide competitive advantage to the college and the students, conflict theorists view it as an act to reduce the opportunities for the less advantaged and increase opportunities for the more talented one . Conflict theorists argue that the functionalists take the interests and perspectives of the dominant social groups in the society and elevate them to the status of universal norms. In other words, the functionalists misinterpret the interests of a particular class as belonging to the society as a whole. The misinterpretation then serves to maintain the privileged position of the members of that class.
Conflict theorist Turner argued that there is an equal distribution of resources within the society. Conflicts arise when the units within the society start to realize that the spread of resources, such as wealth, power and others is disproportional with the majority of the resources going to a minority of the population. Turner described four concepts of economic inequality, namely, economic surplus, self-interest, power groups and reaffirmation of power . The wealthy members of the society influence the government due to which the government regulates the price of goods. Inequality is thus a result of the structure of basic social institutions and people’s access to valued resources. The unequal distribution of valued resources thus leads to the formation of homogenous populations causing economic inequality. Thus, the conflict theorists criticized the functionalists and offered a different view of the role of education system in the society.

Works Cited

Browne, Ken. An Introduction to Sociology. Polity, 2011.
Giddens, Anthony, Mitchell Duneier, Richard P. Appelbaum, and Deborah Carr. Introduction to Sociology. W. W. Norton, Inc., 2013.
Tim, Delaney. Contemporary Social Theory. Pearson Education, 2008.

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Free Sociology Midterm Paper Essay Sample. Free Essay Examples - Published Nov 10, 2020. Accessed May 14, 2021.

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