Modern industrial economies have a complex division of labour, where the production of a single item usually involves the cooperation of specialist workers. For this to be successful, each person must have the necessary specialist skills knowledge and skills to perform their role. Durkheim argues that education teaches individuals the specialist skills they need to play their part in the social division of labour.
Parsons sees the school as the ‘focal socialising agency’ in modern society, acting as a bridge between the family and the wider society. In both school and the wider society, a person’s status is largely achieved, not ascribed. Parsons see’s school as preparing us to move from the family to wider society because school and society are both based on meritocratic principles. He describes school as a ‘society in miniature’, an institution that teaches pupils roles and responsibilities’, readying them for the wider society’s universalistic values, achieved status and meritocracy.
Like Parsons, Davis and Moore also see education as a device for selection and role allocation, but they focus on the relationship between education and social inequality. They argue that inequality is necessary to ensure that the most important roles in society are filled by the most talented people. For example, it would be inefficient and dangerous to have less able people performing roles such as surgeon or airline pilot. Education plays a key part in