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ellie browne

on 6 July 2015

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Transcript of Functionalism

Functionalism is the theory that everything within society serves a function and is necessary for survival of society.
It is a top down approach and a macro view, meaning that society shapes individuals, and that it is studied as a whole system with individual and interdependent subsystems.
The first true sociologist may have been Herbert Spencer (1829-1903). He compared functions of society to functions of the human body.
Émile Durkheim (1858-1917) was a functionalist that many key ideas can be linked back to.
It was believed by functionalists that society is based around value consensus and social solidarity.
Today social order isn't based on value consensus, but is achieved through law and highlighting deviance.
August Comte(1902-97)
Impact on Society
The influence on policies and laws (i.e. on education, family, and crime and deviance)
Commonly the New right theories and social policies
Key Concepts
Society operates like a living organism
Value consensus and social order are very important.
Integration of individuals
The systems needs
Types of society
Social change
There are four sub systems of society
Parts of the social system
Everything is good!
Comte was a french philosopher.
He was the founder of the discipline sociology as well as the idea of positivism.
He was a major influence on other theorists in the 19th century.
He was the first to coin the term sociology.
Comte suggested that sociology was the product of a three part development. (Theological, Metaphysical and scientific stages.)
Herbert Spencer(1820-1903)
Spencer was an English philosopher, biologist, anthropologist and sociologist.
Compared societies functions to that of the human body.
He was one of the main developers or the functionalist theory.
He was highly influenced by Comte's sociocultural evolution theory.
Emile Durkheim(1858-1917)
David Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist, social psychologist and philosopher.
Emile is credited for institutionalizing sociology.
He was especially interested in how social order is possible or how society remains relatively stable.
Other important sociologists are:
Talcott Parsons
Davis and Moore
Robert Merton
George Murdoch
Marion J. Levy
Impact On Sociology
Internal Critiques.
Robert K. Merton gave the most significant criticism to Parsons’ theory. He did this by criticising three of Parsons’ kay assumptions:
Functional unity
Universal functionalism
External Critiques
There have also been many criticisms from outside of the perspective; these can be divided into four kinds of criticism:
Logical critisisms
Conflict perspective criticisms
Action perspective criticisms
Postmodernist criticisms
Contemporary Relevance

• As functionalism is a fairly old perspective meaning that it is modelled around society in previous years which suggests that as society changes day by day that this perspective can be said to be outdated

• Functionalism reached the peak of its influence in the 1940-50s, and after this rapidly declined.

The main argument Merton made was; you cannot simply assume things, like Parsons does when believing that society is always a smooth-running, well-integrated system.
It has influenced the formation of other perspectives
Helped and influenced overall sociology in general.
Emile Durkheim fighting for sociology to be considered a Science.
Full transcript