Outcome: Theoretical Perspectives on Education

Examine the major theoretical perspectives on education

While it is clear that education plays an integral role in individuals’ lives as well as society as a whole, sociologists view that role from many diverse points of view. Functionalists believe that education equips people to perform different functional roles in society. Conflict theorists view education as a means of widening the gap in social inequality. Feminist theorists point to evidence that sexism in education continues to prevent women from achieving a full measure of social equality. Symbolic interactionists study the dynamics of the classroom, the interactions between students and teachers, and how those affect everyday life. In this section, you will learn about each of these perspectives.

What you’ll learn to do:

  • Describe the functionalist view on education and define manifest and latent functions of education
  • Examine the conflict theory on education
  • Examine the feminist theory on education
  • Examine the symbolic interactionist view of education


The learning activities for this section include:

  • Reading: Functionalist Theory on Education
  • Reading: Conflict Theory on Education
  • Reading: Feminist Theory on Education
  • Reading: Symbolic Interactionist Theory on Education
  • Self-Check: Theoretical Perspectives on Education