Culture & Functionalism

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  • Culture - Functionalist Perspectives
    • Emile Durkheim & Marcel Mauss
      • Primitive Classification
        • Culture only becomes possible once humans are able to distinguish between things and classify them.
        • Humans have to develop a system for classifying things. Without this they cannot make sense of the world around them.
      • Origin of classification systems
        • The model on which classification is based on comes from the structure of society.
          • Social structures are based on the divisions between social groups, people begin to classify the rest of the world in terms of the world.
        • Example: Australian aboriginals were divided into two social groups, and because their society was divided into two groups, they divided everything else into two groups.
      • Religion and classification
        • Durkheim believed religion was the basis of collective conscience - the shared moral beliefs and values of a society.
      • A specialised division of labour can encourage excessive individualism (egoism) or normlessness (anomie)
      • People must conform to the culture of their society if they are to avoid the risk of punishment.


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