The main function of education is to maintain a value consensus in society, this is the main idea of Durkheim. He also believed that a major function of education was to prepare children for the world of work. He outlined this with three broad functions role allocation, skill provision and socialisation. The problem with Durkheim’s theory is he didn’t actually carry out empirical research, he was expressing his opinion based on his functionalist views. Functionalists also believe education is a form of secondary socialization and social solidarity. This would support the claim that the main function of education is to maintain a value consensus in society. This is because they are being taught the accepted cultural beliefs and behaviour in society at an early age, while also being taught to work as a community (working inside of your school class with some people you may not like) even though it can be hard. Parson views education as being part of meritocracy. He saw it as a secondary agent of socialisation. A bridge between the family and society, getting children ready for their adult roles.
School prepares the children for the change in their standards and ascribed status to the standards of society and their achieved status. This is more evidence of education preparing children to allow for a value consensus in society. The problem with this theory is not all children have equal chances, meritocracy is undermined by statistics which show that not all children have equal chances. However Marxists ignore meritocracy as they believe in a capitalist society where money grants you power, success and status based on social class. Bowles and Gintis believed in the correspondence theory, which suggests what happens in school corresponds directly to what happens in the work place. For example the teacher is the boss and the students are the employees. They see it as education preparing students to be obedient good workers that can adapt to the needs of the system which will benefit the bourgeoisie. This is proof of education not creating a value consensus and in fact aiding the bourgeoisie.