• Created by: rsherburn
  • Created on: 28-11-16 13:14
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  • Society as a system
    • Organic Analogy (Parsons)
      • System - society has parts (institutions) that fit together in fixed ways
      • System needs - social systems have needs that must be met in order to survive. E.g socialisation allows society to continue
      • Functions - the function of any part of society is the contribution it makes to meeting society's needs
    • Value consensus and social order
      • Parsons - social order is achieved through a shared culture
      • Social order is only possible if members of society agree on the value consensus
    • Integration of individuals
      • Parsons - 2 mechanisms for ensuring conformity to shared norms:
        • Socialisation - allows individuals internalise norms and values
        • Social control - positive sanctions reward conformity, while negative ones punish deviance
    • The parts of the social system (Parsons)
      • Individual actors - Each action is governed by specific rules, then...
        • ....these norms are governed by clusters called status-roles, which are positions that exist in a social system (e.g. teacher) which tell us how they carry out their duty (e.g teachers don't show favouritism). Then...
          • Status roles also come in clusters called institutions e.g. education. Then...
            • ...Institutions are grouped together into sub systems (e.g. superstructure) and finally...
              • ...These sub systems group together to form the social system
    • The system's needs (Parsons)
      • Adaptation - the social system meets  material needs through the economic sub-system
      • Integration - the different parts of the system must be integrated together to pursue shared goals
      • Latency - The processes that maintain society overtime. It provides pattern maintenance (individuals perform their roles society requires) and tension management (letting off steam)
      • Goal attainment - society sets goals and allocates resources to achieve them through institutions
    • Social change
      • Parsons identifies 2 types of society:
        • Modern society - we pursue our self-interests, achieve our status and are judged by universalistic standards
        • Traditional society - we are expected to put collective interests first, status is ascribed and we are judged by particularistic standards
      • Societies move from simple to complex structures, e.g. in traditional society, a single institution can perform many functions
        • However, as societies develop,  the complex structures lose their functions
          • Parsons calls this structural differentiation - a gradual process in which separate institutions develop


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