Functionalists adopt a consensus view of society, that is, one based on harmony and agreement between its members. They emphasize the positive aspects of education, for example, history teaches students about a shared heritage and culture and PSHE teaches them about responsible citizenship.

As a starter activity, students could be divided into groups and assigned a subject they have studied at school. They can then work together to identify ways in which Functionalists would see the study of that subject as being beneficial for both individuals and society.åÊ

A useful overview of the Functionalist view of education can be found here:

Discover More The New Right and Education

This highlights a range of useful key terms including role allocation. A simple fill in the gaps evaluation of functionalist views on education can then be found here

Discover More Criticisms of the Functionalist Perspective on Education

For extension work, students could be directed to this article:

Discover More Lessons we learned from sociological theories

It’s taken from an Iranian medical journal and considers medical student selection and society, making links to both consensus and conflict views of society. It encourages readers to consider the imbalance in medical school entries each year and asks whether a broader interview process should be in place which moves away from examination results at one point in time. It will be a useful independent read which leads on to a discussion in class about the issue. It’s also a good opportunity to have a look at data on university admissions on a range of courses and at different institutions as it’s data that will have meaning for learners.

If anyone is struggling to grasp the terminology associated with the functionalist perspective on education, they could be directed to quizlet to make their own flash cards; we know that frequent consolidation will help both recall and understanding. Here is a set created by another student to get them started:

Discover More AS Sociology- Functionalism Key Terms

More Resources from Discovering Sociology


Some useful background reading for use as a flipped resource for the lesson can be found here:...


Is Sociology a Science?

‘Is Sociology a Science?’ has been a popular past question for all major exam boar...


Looking Glass Self

A key idea that contributed to the development of Symbolic Interactionism is the work of the S...



The lesson could begin by asking students to write down everything they think they already kno...



Slide two on the following presentation gives a good overview of key ideas in relation to mode...



Prior to the lesson, ask students to watch the following video and write down the key ideas as...


Research Speed-Dating

The idea for a speed dating type session came from this blog post see link below:


Symbolic Interactionism

This is a clear overview of a perspective students often find tricky; and in particular the tr...


The Enlightenment

An important precursor to modernity was The Enlightenment. The Open University has a wide rang...


Value Freedom

In 2009, the media extensively covered a debate as to whether the BBC should allow the BNP to ...


Sociological Theory Introduction