Education in contemporary American society is one aspect in the process of socialization in which people learn how to act correctly in society and learn specific behaviors needed to be able to function in today's society. In the United States schools teach what it means to be American and the traits that go along with it. For example children are taught the English language, learn the common heritage shared by all Americans, and are reiterated the basics of society. The education system also attempts to give children from different cultural backgrounds the same Anglo education.
The education system also acts as an integrator of the lower class children into the mainstream of the rest of the children. Also the education system acts as a type of screening process by finding which students are best suited for certain jobs. The education system by issuing diplomas, degrees, and other credentials, determines which student will have access to the more financially gratifying positions in society. In a way schools also prepare children for day-to-day work by going through the same routines everyday. The system of grades parallels the wage system in society as well. The education system in the United States is primarily used for the preparation of the young child's socialization.
Prejudice refers to attitudes of aversion and hostility toward the members of a group simply because they belong to it and hence are presumed to have the objectionable qualities ascribed to it. Discrimination is the action based on the prejudice. One theory that explains this phenomenon well is the Functionalist Theory. Functionalists believe that society is a living being in which various parts contribute to its survival. In a society if there is a gap between two groups financially or socially there will be that social tension between the groups. This ethnic conflict is a major problem of this society.
This ethnic conflict maybe dysfunctional to the society but it serves some important functions inside the society, it promotes group formation, and groups in the functionalist's eyes are the building blocks of society. It also raises the distinction between the two groups and binds both groups of people closer. Conflict also promotes group cohesion. This conflict between the races may also function as a safety valve for the society as a whole.
Prejudice provides for the release of hostile and aggressive impulses that are culturally taboo within other social contexts. The works of Lift on and Ritzer bring up some new realities, which can be witnessed in today's society. In George Ritzer's article "The McDonalization of Society" he brings up some major issues dealing with social interaction and society today. Society today is less and less dealing with people interacting and more and more focusing on the individual. Today's society has large lecture classes, email, and automated work. Ritzer uses McDonald's since it is the paradigm case of dehumanization of society.
Everything that the fast food industry does is impersonal and automatic. So goes the American society, in the past the focus was on the family dinner and family communication. Today in American society, there is no time for family interaction and bonding, and if there is any interaction it is very brief and curt. Due to this automation of society, people are becoming more sheltered, Ritzer uses the example of camping in a RV versus camping in a tent and the suffering the RV camper endures. Ritzer argues that a fully rational society would be a bleak and uninteresting place. Yet this rational society is happening right now, evolving into a bleak and boring beast.
The focus must be partly shifted back to the family and the families worth in society.