Chapter Nine

The Functions of Adult and Continuing Education

The term ‘function’ has been traditionally associated with the structural functionalism in sociology, some of the weaknesses of which have already been illustrated. However, in education, there has been a tendency to confuse it with ‘aims’ and so it is necessary at the outset to clarify the concept and to demonstrate how it differs from aims. Additionally, it is essential to rescue the term from its conservative connotations, so that this introduction will concentrate upon these tasks. Thereafter the chapter will highlight six opposing sets of interpretations of the function of the education of adults.

Within the structural functionalism of Talcott Parsons the term ‘function’ meant ...

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