The functionalist perspective states that for society to work and have social stability, social structures need to have stable patterns. These social structures can either help maintain social stability or fail to do so. This approach focuses on the macro-level structures in our society (Brym, 2019). School and peer groups function significantly influence the lives of Canadians today. However, the functionalist perspective shows how these two socialization agents are differentiated depending on how they are looked at through this approach.
According to Brym (2019), peer group functions help adolescents and children develop an independent identity when they separate from their families. This agent of socialization has a notable amount of agency in the lives of Canadians today. However, in some cases, peer groups can fail to maintain social stability in society. To explain, multiculturalism is a very important characteristic in Canadian society. Nonetheless, too much multiculturalism in society can affect its social stability. Cultures have different values that sometimes collide, some challenging authoritarian regimes while others are more submissive. Many immigrant families in Canada struggle when trying to implement their values to their family members born in Canada. To elaborate, Hispanic parents tend to be more strict when it comes to letting their daughters and sons go to a party or having a sleepover at a friend's house. In contrast, Canadian parents tend to be more permissive. Canadians have different values and norms than many other ethnic groups.
The journal article SALVADORIAN ETHNIC PRIDE: A Bridge for Reducing Mother-Daughter Conflict Due to Acculturation Into Canadian Society by Carranza (2012), discusses how Salvadorian immigrant mothers living in Canada try to guide their daughters according to their Salvadorian heritage. Furthermore, it emphasizes the disagreement between mothers raised in El Salvador and their daughters living in a mid-sized city in Ontario. Dina a mother of three, explained how she allowed her daughter to have Canadian friends but she did not agree with the things her daughter's friends do. After the interviews between mothers and daughters, the daughters comprehended that some practices in Canadian culture that are allowed and normal for young women are not acceptable or 'decent' for young women in El Salvador.
Conflict frequently emerges between certain values promoted by parents and those promoted by the adolescent peer group (Brym, 2019). Hispanic families are very strict about drugs, dress styles, curfew times, and many other rules in their culture. About four percent of Canadians between the ages of twelve and seventeen smoke cigarettes daily or often and have five or more drinks per occasion at least twelve times a year (Brym, 2019). Immigrant children and adolescents are actively influenced by the individuals of the settlement country. They can lose the values and norms they learned in their society because they want to fit in with the rest of their peers.
Multiculturalism can indeed affect the social stability of Canadian society when certain values in a culture overlap with other values in a different culture. Not everybody is the same and not every culture implements the same values and norms. Canadians have different norms and values. For example, in Canada, gay marriage is allowed contrary to many countries around the world where gay marriage is not allowed and is seen as a taboo subject. Many immigrants may not agree with this rule in Canadian society. This can cause conflicts when entering the workforce because they can find same-sex couples colleagues. Discrimination can come into place when these differences in norms come to play which can cause social instability in society.
On the other hand, school functions are responsible for socialization outside the family environment after childhood (Brym, 2019). This agent of socialization has had a tremendous impact on Canadian society and it is helping their society to maintain social stability. To explain, Canadians are among the most highly educated people in the world. According to Brym, (2019), today about eighty-seven percent of Canadians between the ages of twenty-five and sixty-four have completed high school and sixty-four percent have a post-secondary degree. Presently, Canada has reasonably high levels of education, however, students who are unable to complete high school persist to be a concern (Hankivsky, 2008). There are various quantities of consequences related to dropping out of high school which include poor health, increased unemployment, delinquency, and many others (Hankivsky,2008). Although recent studies have shown that there has been a decrease in high school dropouts rates, the number of individuals who are not attending school between the ages of twenty to twenty-four years old was twenty-one percent for males and sixteen percent for females during the years of 1990 and 1991. However, the statistics demonstrated a significant decrease in these numbers during the years of 2004 and 2005, the rate of individuals who were not attending high school was fourteen percent for males and nine percent for females (Hankivsky, 2008).
One of the reasons why the Canadian education system is rated among the best in the entire world is because the government focuses significantly on education. The Canadian education system has many programs to help immigrant families. For example, English as a Second Language (ESL) is a program that helps students whose first language is not English to learn how to speak, write, listen and read English. Equally as important, the Canadian education system provides students with the flexibility to attend night school. Lastly, Canada’s education system also provides its population with adult school, which is designed to help skilled immigrants who are trying to continue their careers in Canada. Adult school also allows individuals with the age of twenty two and above to continue their high school studies.
In conclusion, socialization agents through a functionalist perspective can be perceived in different ways. Functionalists focus their attention on how socialization helps maintain order in society through social relations (Brym, 2019). School functions have helped maintain order and social stability in Canadian society. Unlike schools, peer groups can affect social stability and order in Canadian society due to the fact that Canada is a very culturally diverse country. These social structures can either help maintain social stability or fail to do so.
- Brym, R. J. (2019). Soc+. Toronto, Ontario: Nelson.
- Carranza, M. (2012). SALVADORIAN ETHNIC PRIDE: A Bridge for Reducing Mother-Daughter Conflict Due to Acculturation Into Canadian Society. Canadian Social Work Review / Revue Canadienne De Service Social, 29(1), 61-85. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/43486269
- Hankivsky, O. (2008). Cost estimates of dropping out of high school in Canada. Canadian Council on Learning.