A Critical Analysis and Application of the Functionalist Theory The functionalist perspective is based largely on the works of Herbert Spencer, Emile Durkheim, Talcott Parsons, and Robert Merton. The idea of the perspective is quite simple. It is that, as the human body system works, the institutions in the society works interdependently for the proper functioning of the whole; the whole being the entire society. A number of key concepts underpin Functionalism. The primary concepts within Functionalism are collective conscience, value consensus, social order, education, family, crime and deviance and the media.
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.
Taking the functionalist view Durkheim believed that harmony as opposed to conflict defined society. He saw conflict as abnormal or pathological and believed that solidarity was the normal condition of society. To this end he believed that ideally people would succeed in the workplace based on merit alone and assume roles which compliment their natural abilities. The following paper will look to challenge Durkheim’s unique perspective and outdated idealisms. It cannot be denied that of the three founding fathers of Sociology, Durkheim’s name appears with vastly less frequency in the literature of modern sociology.
Structural theory and Social Action Structural theory implies that the structures of society are the most important influences upon the individuals in that society. Marx assumed that there were two main classes, i.e. the capitalists and the proletariat. Individuals belonging to the proletariat have relatively little freedom of choice and materialistic considerations dominate how society is formed. Karl Marx predicted that the rich would become richer and the poor would become poorer.
Theoretically, functional analysis and the conflict theory share similarities because they both comprehend society's at a larger viewpoint and both group individuals together by class or either symbols. Rather than this functionalist approach beginning with the individual, the functionalist analysis of deviance begins with society as a whole. The functionalist perspective believes deviance serves two primary roles in creating social stability for a society. The first primary goal is systems of recognizing and punishing deviance create norms and tell members of a given society how to properly behave by laying out the guidelines of what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Mainly, everyone must be aware of what behaviors are considered deviant in order to avoid an unsettling society.
The functionalist perspective states that families reproduce and raise the next generation by teaching them ways of reciprocating the process. The children inherit and show a model of rearing, through a relationship that is sexually monogamous and child rearing. Families raise and protect their children, they care for them and teach them the ways of life from a tender age in terms of cultural or social values and norms. In a way we can say that the basic rules of conforming were instilled in us from a very early stage, so being deviant to our culture and social values and norms is a result of external
The structural functionalist theory believes everything is a working part of society and is needed to create a sort of well oiled machine and that every part has its own use and needed function. The conflict theory sees every aspect of society as a conflict between two groups for scarce resources and wants to minimize the
One main point of the structural functionalism theory is that the erection of a family directly impacts their likelihood of living in poverty. According to Macionis et al stated that the structural-functionalist perspective, poverty, and economic inequality serve several positive functions for society (Macionis et al 2015). Davis and Moore (1945) argued that because the various occupational roles in society require various levels of ability, expertise, and knowledge, an unequal economic reward system helps to assure that the person who performs a role is the most qualified. Argued Davis and Moore thesis states that social stratification is universal because of its functional consequences. in caste system, people are rewarded for performing the duties of their position of birth, in class systems, unequal rewards attract the ablest people to
This divides sociology into four fairly distinct paradigm clusters. There is internal consistency under each paradigm, in terms of assumptions about individuals, groups, societies, goals of study and accepted forms of evidence. However, each cluster neglects, excludes or opposes some the insights generated under other paradigms. A ? Functionalist (Regulation-Objective): Societies are the coming together of populations with shared civic values who establish social order which on the whole benefits everybody.
Just as the structuralisms were concerned with the structure of mental life, the functionalisms were concerned with the functions of mental processes and structures. Another way of viewing the difference between structuralism and functionalism is that structuralists believed that sensations are the basis elements of consciousness; study sensations through methods of inspection “looking within” (Wundt & Titchene); nonetheless, functionalism inspired by William James, believed that psychology should focus on the purpose and adaptive function of consciousness and also believed in practical results of the mental processes. Structuralism focused all of psychology on the experience of an observer. That is, structuralism was based on the notion that the task of psychology is to analyze consciousness into its basic elements and investigate how these elements are related (Hilgard, 1987; Thorne & Henley, 1997). Just as physicists were studying how matter is made up of basis particles, the structuralists wanted to identify and examine the fundamental components of conscious experience, for instance sensations, ideas, and images.