Education and Social Cohesion: Rethinking the Relation and Its Implications
This article focuses on the relation of education to social cohesion in sociology, and more particularly in the sociology of education. The text provides a short overview and discusses the implications of the underlying views on cohesion to societal preservation or transformation.
The concepts of cohesion expresses political as well as scientific concern with intergenerational social continuity through, inter alia, the functioning of institutions. Cohesion is a highly abstract concept pointing to numerous processes taking place at different levels of social life that produce the relative stability observed in society. Recently, the concept has gained momentum; and while an all-inclusive definition is still lacking, it is being used mostly as a self-explanatory concept that radiates at the same time an ideal worthy of striving toward.
The education system is viewed historically as serving the purpose of societal continuity by preparing the new members for their adult roles in society. For this purpose, new members are socialized, selected, taught, and trained. In this way, education contributes to reproducing the current organization of social relations for future generations. Social relations, however, are characterized both by equity and inequity. Thus, discussion and theorizing on cohesion involves and raises questions more implicit than explicit about social preservation or social transformation. In addition, though views and arguments supporting the relevant approaches may differ, these still show that the relation of education to society is also a political one.
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