The Functionalists and the Marxists view on training and education within the context of employee development
The Marxists and the Functionalists views were and still are quite popular and widely spread in regard to the analysis of the social life and relationships between individuals within society. At the same time, their views may be also applied to the training and education of employees in the process of their development. However, the views of the two theories on this problem will vary consistently because of the existing difference in the theoretical basis of both the Functionalist and Marxist theories.
First of all, it should be pointed out that the Marxists stand on the ground that the entire society consists of different classes which are in a state of a permanent conflict with each other (Holmwood, 2005). In fact, the classes antagonism leads to the conflicts and social tension between representatives of different classes and this trend persists on the organizational level where employees may be in conflict with the administration of an organization. The Marxists argue that the upper classes of society control the life of the entire society because of their economic and political power (Otomar, 2002). This is why they impose their will on the rest of society using all available means from education to law enforcement agencies. At the same time, the ruling elite gets all the benefits from the functioning of the society or an organization, while lower classes and employees are doomed to receive as much benefits as are enough to maintain their existence and work.
As for the Functionalists, they, instead, argue that each class within the society fulfills its particular function. In other words, the society functions on the basis of the interaction between various classes which leads to the stabilization of the relationship due to the fact that each class performs its own specific role in the society (Elster, 1990). In such a way, the Functionalists underline that each class of society has its own place and therefore its own share in the national wealth. The same may be said about the organization where employees and administration, for instance, fulfill their own functions and profit from their work. At the same time, it is very important to the Functionalists that each person in society and organization fulfilled his/her own professional duties, while the Marxists argue that the existing social order is unjust it should be changed that means the possible change of social roles and therefore professions of people.
In such a way, the Marxists argue that the process of education and training of employees should be focused on the provision of employees with ample opportunities to acquire larger knowledge so that they could perform various functions and be universal employees since the change of their job and function within the organization as well as society is highly probable if employees win the conflict with the administration, for instance, and improve their position (Collins, 1994). In contrast, the Functionalists insist on the necessity of the narrow, purely professional education and training of employees. In other words, employees should acquire and improve only those skills which they need in their own work.
Thus, it is possible to conclude that the Marxists and the Functionalists are quite different and the Marxists apparently tends to change the existing social order and eliminate the inequality between people giving them opportunities to change their position in society or organization, while the Functionalists prefer to maintain the existing order. In this regard, the Marxists are more convincing because they argue that all people can have a chance and even an ordinary employee can potentially become a CEO, for instance, but the ruling elite apparently prevents lower classes, i.e. employees, from entering upper classes and joining the elite.
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