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Functionalism:

Sociology AS - SCLY1; Sociological Themes and Perspectives - Functionalism.
by

Natalie Thornton

on 22 March 2014

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Transcript of Functionalism:

Criticisms of Funtionalism:
Functionalism is far less popular in sociology today than it was in the 1950s.
It fails to explain the
conflict
that occurs within society.
Overemphasizes
consensus
and
order.
Ignores the
freedom of choice
enjoyed by individuals.
Functionalists portray
socialization
as completely positive and unable to fail.
Functionalism ignores the fact that power is not equally distributed in society.
Functionalism:
Social Order:
Many Functionalists study the role of different parts of society - social institutions - in bringing about the patterns of shared and stable behaviour that they refer to as
social order.
According to Functionalists, society is a complex system made up of parts that all work together to keep the whole system going.

Key Thinkers - Talcott Parsons:
Socialisation
is the key to understanding human behaviour patterns.
Social institutions
ensure that socially acceptable patterns of behaviour are passed on.
Social institutions
socialise people into key values of society, such as the importance of nuclear family life, achievement, respect for authority and
hierarchy
- (reinforces the value consensus).
Social institutions
give some
values
and
norms
a sacred quality, so that they become powerful formal and informal
moral codes
governing
social behaviour.
They encourage
social solidarity
and
social integration.

The behaviour is controlled by the rules of
society
into which we are born.
Social Institutions:
The major function of
social institutions
is to socialise individuals into a system of
norms and values

t
hat will guide their future behaviour and thinking. This eventually leads to
social solidarity, social cohesion
and
a value consensus.
Social institutions prepare young people to take their place in the division of labour transmitting the idea that education, qualifications, working hard and a career are all worthwhile things. This ensures that young people will eventually come to replace workers who have retired or died; meaning that
social order
is maintained.
Identity:
Identity
is the way we feel about ourselves, which is partly shaped by how others view us.
Functionalists believe that our identity is controlled by a
value consensus.
The value consensus largely determines what
roles
each status should adopt in order to fit into society successfully.
Expectations
of identity may change according to gender - this is why many people say that working mothers (as opposed to working fathers) are the cause of psychological harm in children.
Functionalists say that our experience of
socialisation
and
social control
ensures that most of us attempt to live up to these
social
and
cultural expectations
without question.
Outline of Functionalism:
In addition, Functionalism is a
structuralist theory
- meaning that it believes that human behaviour is influenced by the organisation of society. This also means that it sees the individual as less important than the social structure of society itself. It states that society is more important as individuals are shaped by it; they believe that individuals are the product of the social influences on them e.g. education and family
Functionalists believe that we are born into society, play our role and then die. Death doesn't mean the end of society; society will carry on without us.
They also believe in
social solidarity
- a sense of community.
Functionalism is a sociological perspective that is based around the idea of a value consensus. A
value consensus
is an agreement amongst a majority of members of society that something is good and worthwhile.
Full transcript