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Summary and evaluation of functionalism.
Mia Rose
Flashcards by Mia Rose, updated more than 1 year ago
Mia Rose
Created by Mia Rose over 1 year ago

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Functionalism. Functionalism is a consensus view of society and has a macro approach. It is believed that society is split into many social institutions such as the government, religion, family, education and health. If one of the institutions does not function properly, other institutions may also not function as well. In other words, if a specific part of society breaks down, all the other parts of society will break down. The institutions of society must work together in order to create and maintain stability, productivity and a harmonious society.
Emile Durkheim (1). He believed that sociology should be the study of social law such as money, law and language. Social facts are objective. This means that the facts are not based on emotion. If something is objective, it can be measured. Durkheim believed that harmony defined society. Durkheim’s concept of social facts explained how individual’s actions can be shaped wider patterns of integration.
Emile Durkheim (2). Durkheim identified two main concerns in his social research. The first one is that he wanted to ensure that modern societies were in order and harmonious. The second one is that he wanted to create a science of society so that there is clear knowledge about bringing in social order. Durkheim believed that a social structure existed. The structure that has the norms and values do come before us. When we are born, the norms and values already existed and we are born into these norms and values of society. People’s behavior was shaped by the social system consisting of the norms and values.
Talcott Parsons. Parsons identified three similarities between society and an organism (living thing.) Society is a functional unit. People have the ability to make decisions. Core values and norms create social integration. System needs – Organisms have needs that must be met in order to survive. His view of society is that it is made up of interlinked systems and prerequisites. Parsons suggests that the systems are interlinked with each other. Personality System – concerned with person’s beliefs, goals and values that are internalized (take in part of someone’s attitudes or beliefs. Social System – Institutionalized (placed in a specific institution). Cultural System – Core Values and Shared History helps to construct society.
Functional Prerequisites - Adaptation. Social systems should be adapted to its environment. A system must exist where food and shelter is obtained. This may involve hunting and gathering. The economic institution should be used for this prerequisite.
Functional Prerequisites - Goal Attainment. Societies should set goals towards activities directed by institutions and members. There has to be a legitimate use of power through leadership and direction. The government should be used for this prerequisite.
Functional Prerequisites - Integration. Societies should work with peer groups, the police and the family so that there is control in the society.
Functional Prerequisites - Pattern maintenance. In order to maintain a pattern, core values should be reinforced and we should be constantly socialized. The family, media, religion and education are vital for the socialization process because values, meanings and norms are shared within these institutions.
Evaluation (1). One strength of the Functionalist argument is that it is evident in the real world. When one of the subsystems breaks down, it collapses and becomes dysfunctional resulting in anomie a state of chaos. For example, in 2011, the London riots took place. The cause of the riots may be due to a breakdown in one of the subsystems. MP’s state that the riots took place because families are now fatherless, meaning that in families, there is not that second role model for the individual. Therefore, this is a strength because the Functionalist argument is useful to today.
Evaluation (2). One strength of the Functionalist argument is that individuals are shaped and programmed by institutions such as education and religion through socialization. However, this now applies to contemporary society because our behavior is now shaped through the shared norms and values. Some families now only have one role model and our behavior can be shaped by the individuals in the social institutions including friends and teachers. This is a strength because it is useful to today.
Evaluation (3). One weakness of the Functionalist argument is that Functionalists ignores conflict in institutions in which our behavior is shaped by. For example, in the educational system, teachers choose to go on strike because they do not agree with plans that have been proposed by local authorities or governments. However, this type of conflict can be applied today and therefore it is useful.
Evaluation (4). Another weakness of the Functionalist argument is that it also fails to recognize conflict within the different social institutions. For example, in religion, females and males do not agree with each other that the Pope is a male and therefore religion should be equal. Therefore, this is a weakness because it is not useful in today’s society.
Evaluation (5). Another weakness of the Functionalist argument is that Functionalists fail to recognize the conflict in families. For example, knife crime is becoming a problem and in single parent families, there is not that second role model to support the individual. Therefore, this is a weakness because it is not useful to today.
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