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  • Functionalism
    • Parsons (1970) sees society as a biological organism:
      • 1. systems - organisms and society are both self regulating and inter-related.
      • 2. system needs - organisms need nutrition, social systems have basic needs > e.g. socialisation.
      • 3. Functions, each body part has a function > economy helps maintain the social system by meeting the need for food and shelter.
    • Parsons argues social order is achieved through a shared culture, provides a framework for people to co-operate > social order only works on a value consensus.
    • Value consensus = integrates individuals directing them to meet the systems needs.
      • E.g: system needs to ensure peoples materials met > value consensus of for people to work.
      • two mechanisms to ensure that individuals conform: socialisation and social control:
        • socialisation: teaches individuals what it requires them to do, internalise norms and values.
        • social control: positive sanctions reward for conformity, negative punish deviance.
        • thus: peoples behaviour are predictable = allows co-operation > social life possible.
    • Parts of a social system: 1. actions (each action governed by norms rules) cluster > 2. status roles (position that exists in a given social system) e.g. teacher - roles = set of norms tat tells us how the occupant must carry out > institutions e.g. family > related institutions (sub-systems) > shops, factories > meet society's
    • The system needs:1.(AGIL) > adaption= needs its members need through the economy. 2. goal attainment = needs to set goals and allocate resources to achieve them. 3. integration = different parts must be integrated to pursue shared goals. 4. latency = process that maintains society over time e.g. kinship sub-system > socializing + letting out stress.
      • adaption and goal attainment are instrumental needs = means to an end
      • integration + latency = expressive needs, involve the expressing or chanelling of emotion.
    • Merton's Internal critique of functionalism
      • 1. indispensability = not all systems in society is crucial, Parsons argues that the nuclear family is best for socialization but gay families can perform it too.
      • 2. functional unity = Parsons argue that all systems are integrated into one unity + has a knock-on-effect on each other BUT some parts have functional autonomy from others.
      • 3. universal functionalism = Parsons argues everything in society has a positive function but some may me dysfunctional for others.
        • conflict: there may be conflict of interests, some groups may have the power to exploit the other.
      • Manifest and latent functions: ritual of hopi indians is its manifest function > the latent funtion is promoting solidarity in times of hardship
        • Useful in revealing the hidden connection between social phenomena.
      • External critiques:
        • logical criticisms: functionalism is teleological > things exist because of their function e.g. family exists for socialisation.
          • A real explanation of something is one that identifies the cause, a cause comes before the effect.
          • It is unscientific = it suggests that deviance if functional and both dysfunctional for society = the theory cant be disproved and is unscientific.
        • Conflict perspective: Marxists criticise for not explaining conflict and change
          • society is not harmonious,  its based on the exploitation and divided into classes > with unequal power > shared values are a cloak to conceal the interests of the dominant.
          • functionalism as conservative ideology:  legitimising the status quo, legitimates the position of powerful groups who would have most to lose to the fundamental changes.
        • 3. Action perspective: Wrong criticises functionalisms 'over-socialised' or deterministic view of the individual > individuals have no free will or choice (puppets pulled by the social system).
          • functionalism refies society - treates it as a distinct thing, society is not a thing with independent existence but what individuals construct by giving meaning to their own worlds.
        • Post modern criticism: Functionalism assume that society is orderly and stable > doesn't account for the instability of postmodern society > it's a meta-narrative > that tries to create a model of the workings of society as a whole > but can't as society is fragmented.
    • social change: there's two society's, modern = pursue individual self interest, all judged by the same universal standard.
      • traditional society: collective interest, status is ascribed.
      • Parsons argues change is gradual, of increasing complexity and structural diffrentiation.
        • just as organisms who've evolved from simple structures, society will move to become complex structures
        • structural differentiation: traditional society was a single kinship society, organised production, socialisation, integration (religion).
          • As society develops it loses its kinship function to factories, schools ec.
          • Parson also sees gradual change through moving equilibrium > change occurs in one part then the other > e.g. rise of industry brings a change in the family.


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