The continued existence of a society depends upon the transmission of its heritage to the young. It is essential that the young be trained according to the ways and expectations of the group so that they will behave in a desired way.
All societies have their own ways and means of meeting this need. ‘Education’ as a process has come to stay as an effective means of meeting this need.
The term education comes from the Latin word “educare” which means to bring up and is connected with the verb “educere” which means to bring forth. Education, in its widest sense, can mean everything that is learned by an individual in society.
Durkheim conceived of education as the ‘socialisation of the younger generation’. It is a process of transmission of social heritage. Education consists in “an attempt on the part of the adult members of human society to shape the development of the coming generation in accordance with its own ideals of life”.
Education and sociology are intimately related. Education is one of the major institutions of society. It is the creation of society itself. Educational activities constitute a part of the social activities of man. In this way ‘education’ appears as a branch of sociology.
Sociology of Education:
The bridge between sociology and education is probably ‘sociology of education’, a recently emerged branch of sociology. It analyses the institutions and organisation of education.
It studies the functional relationship between education and the other great institutional orders of society such as the economy, the polity, religion and kinship. It concentrates on educational system or subsystem or individual school or college.
‘Sociology of education’ studies ‘education’ as an agent of transmission of culture. It studies the functional importance of education also. It makes studies of school organisation and the relation between schools and social structure, especially social class, family and neighborhood.
The interaction of these social forces with the internal organisation of the school is explored in order to find out the social determinants of educability. Studies have shown that social class and its correlates have a systematic effect on educability and educational selection.
The Social Importance of Education:
The social importance of education is widely recognised today, especially in modern industrialised societies. In such societies education has become one of the means of acquiring social and technical skills. Education has come to be not only a way of training people of work in different fields but also a qualification for jobs in certain fields. It fits people for increasingly specialised roles.
More than that, education has become an essential need today to register progress in scientific and technological fields. As such, it is a means of promoting economic prosperity. Education, as a means of bringing about social change, is no less significant.
It promotes social mobility, that is, movement of people from one social status to another. It influences social stratification. Education is often made use of in totalitarian and communist countries as an instrument to propagate some chauvinist and communist ideologies.
The famous writer, Newman said that the main practical purpose of a university is to produce socially responsible people. President Truman of America, stressing the importance of education, once remarked that man with wide experience, practical vision of things, intellectual depth and capacity to take right decisions at right time should be given the reins of administration to rule the country.
Dr.S. Radhakrishnan said that the main objective of education was to give training to students to undertake occupations effectively and to become proper leaders in various social fields in which they happen to work.
Dr. Kothari Commission, appointed by the Government of India to recommend suitable educational reforms declares in the very beginning of its very comprehensive report that, The destiny of India is being shaped in her classrooms today.
Sociology and Education are not, however, one and the same. Sociology studies all kinds of social relationship including the educational. Hence its scope is wider. Education, on the other hand, deals with only the educational activities of man and hence has smaller field of study. Sociology is a general social science, whereas education, as a branch of knowledge, specialises itself in only one kind of human activity, that is, educational.