Functionalist Approach In Sociological Analysis

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There are two approaches in understanding of deviance and social control: functionalist approach and symbolic interactionist approach. Both of these approaches help us understand social deviance and control in macro and micro perspectives. Functionalists define the social phenomena by the functions performed by different social groups, whereas, symbolic interactionists define social phenomena based on an individual’s actions and behavior (Conley, pg. 188-203). Functionalists see the society as a combination of parts or organs with different functions that are organized based on the needs of the society. Durkheim explains two ways that social cohesion can be established in the society: mechanical solidarity and organic solidarity. Premodern…show more content…
189). In the premodern societies, punitive justice was applied to an offender. In these societies, mechanical social sanctions were the reinforcing force to show what actions or behaviors are considered acceptable (or unacceptable). In the organic solidarity, members of the society are differentiated and thus, social sanctions are applied individually based on the specific conditions that the crime has been carried out (Conley, pg. 192). Based on Durkheim’s paradox, deviance and punishment are the two elements of social control, holding the society together (Conley, pg. 193-194). Formal and informal social sanctions are the two mechanisms of social control, shaping the society’s norms. Normative Theory of Suicide is a theory associated with the functionalist framework. Durkheim characterized suicide as the act of social deviance (Conley, pg. 196). In this theory, social integration and social regulation are the two main concepts responsible for suicidal tendencies. If one is not well integrated into a social group, it can lead to “egoistic suicide” (Conley,…show more content…
203). One theory associated with symbolic interactionism is the Labeling Theory. This theory states that a person’s behavior is affected by others’ reactions and labels. In other words, individuals understand how others label them, and they react to those labels over time (Conley, pg. 203). According to Becker, social groups are responsible for creating deviance: these groups tell their members what’s right and what’s wrong while labeling deviants as outsiders (Conley, pg. 204). Therefore, one becomes deviant by interacting with other social groups. An action may be recognized as a crime in one social group while the same action may be acceptable in another group. Social labeling can lead to formation of a stigma, which is a negative label that changes both a person’s self-concept and other’s behavior toward that person (Conley, pg. 209). Symbolic interactionists believe that social labeling and stigma influence an individual’s behavior; therefore, after the primary deviance, the subsequent acts of deviance occur because of social labeling and people’s expectations. Functionalists such as Durkheim explain the social deviance and social control in macro-level as they study “generalizable trends” and “broad social forces” (Conley, pg. 203). Symbolic Interactionists, on the other hand, explain social deviance through micro theories; they focus on a particular

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