Functionalism Theory & Methods

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  • Functionalism
    • Parsons
      • GAIL
        • Adaptation
          • adapting to environment providing basic necessities for human existence
        • Intergration
          • coordinating all parts of the system to achieve shared goals sense of belonging in society
        • Goal Attainment
          • selection/ definition of society's priorities and aims/ goals and providing the means of achieving them
        • Latency
          • minimising social tensions and interpersonal conflicts which may prevent society functioning
      • all societies have to resolve 2 sets of problems instrumental & expressive to satisfy 4 functional prerequisites
      • organic analogy
        • subsystems of the body represent the different subsystems of society
        • compared how society functions with how the human body functions
    • Durkheim
      • people are selfish without consensus society would collapse into chaos collective conscience
      • placed great importance on role of family & education in socialising people
      • social change occurs when new functions emerge and society needs to adapt
        • a change in one part results in a change somewhere else but the system will remain balanced
    • Functionalism & The New Right
      • condemns anything seen as threatening core values or undermining core functions of institutions
      • shares the emphasis on importance of socialisation into shared values for the maintenance of social stability
      • disagrees with the welfare state as it encourages over dependence
      • lays importance on the role of traditional institutions
    • Merton
      • in a complex independent social system there is scope for things to go wrong
        • dysfunction describes a situation where some parts on social structure don't work as intended can be negative consequences for society
      • Merton criticised Parsons not all social institutions perform beneficial functions for everyone
      • manifest functions were recognised or intended outcomes of an individual or situation
      • latent functions were unrecognised or unintended outcomes


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