What are some manifest and latent functions of school education?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The sociologist Robert Merton proposed that social institutions such as education in schools have functions that are both manifest and latent.  The manifest functions are the ones that society intends those institutions to have.  The latent functions are the ones that are not intended, but which come about even so.

In the case of education in schools, the clearest manifest function is to educate students.  Society needs members who have the education and skills that allow them to be economically productive.  Another manifest function today is the inculcation of certain values.  We expect schools to teach children to be patriotic and we expect them to socialize students to do things like resisting to bullying and peer pressure.

However, schools also have latent functions.  One of these latent functions is to provide day care for parents as they go to work.  Another is to provide students with the opportunity to socialize with their peers and, at the higher grades, to find potential partners in romantic relationships.  Marxist scholars would argue that schools socialize students to feel that our current class structure is legitimate and inevitable.  These are functions that are not the real purpose of school, but which schools nonetheless fulfill.

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blay | eNotes Newbie

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I appreciate you anwser but i wish you could give me more examples of latent functions.

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shewolfe | eNotes Newbie

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The manifest function of a watercooler at the office is to keep employees hydrated.  A latent function of a watercooler at the office is to provide a place for employees to gather and chit-chat.