Functionalist Theory - society as a system

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  • Created on: 20-03-14 09:56
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  • Functionalist Theory - society as a system
    • Organic Analogy
      • Society is like a biological organism
        • PARSONS (1970) 3 similarities between body and society
          • SYSTEM: both self-regulating systems of inter-related, interdependent parts (body-organs, cells) (society-institutions, education etc)
          • SYSTEM NEEDS: if vital needs are not met, organisms will die - society has certain basic needs to survive (members must be socialised)
          • FUNCTIONS: the function of any part of a system is the contribution it makes to meeting the systems needs - ensuring it's survival. eg. body = circulatory system for carrying oxygen and economy helps maintain social system by meeting the needs of food/shelter
    • Value Consensus and Social Order
      • PARSONS: key Q "how is social order possible?"
      • Social order achieved through existence of shared culture
        • Provides a framework that allows indiv. to cooperate by laying down rules of how they should behave - defining goals they should pursue etc.
          • Social order is only pos. as long as members of society agree on these n+v. Calling this VALUE CONSENSUS
    • Integration of Individ's
      • basic function of V/C is to make social order pos. - does this by integrating indiv. into the social system - directing them to meet systems needs
        • eg. making sure that peoples material needs are met - may include general ideas about having to work
          • There needs to be specific set of rules of conducts or norms - eg. punctuality to maintain jobs
      • PARSONS: 2 mechanisms for ensuring that indiv. conform to norms and meet systems needs
        • SOCIALISATION: ensure needs met by teaching indiv. to want to do what it requires. Through the soc. process systems n+vs are internalised to become apart of your personality. Dif agencies (ed./family/media)
        • SOCIAL CONTROL: +ve sanctions reward conformity while -ve punishes deviance (eg. education reward = As)
    • The Parts of the Social System
      • 'building block' approach to describing social system
        • Bottom: indiv. actions - each action is governed by specific norms which come in clusters called status-roles (eg. teacher tells us the occupant of the role)
          • status roles also come in clusters known as institutions - eg. family. additionally related institutions group together to make sub-systems whose function is to meet societies needs (eg. shops/factories.farms = economy for material needs)
    • The System's Needs
      • ADAPTATION: social system meets members material needs - met by economic sub system
        • Instrumental
      • GOAL ATTAINMENT: society needs to set goals and allocate resources to achieve them - function of the political sub system through parliament
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      • INTEGRATION: different parts of the system must be integrated together in order to pursue shared goals. Perfromed by media, religion, eduaction sub system
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      • LATENCY: processes that maintain society over time. kinship sub system provides pattern maintenance (socialising people to perform societies roles) and tension management (place to 'let off steam')
        • Expressive
    • Types of Society
      • PARSONS: 2 types of society - traditional and modern
        • Each type has own pattern of norms - called pattern variables A+B
          • They are all judged by the same universal standards - but trad. society based on ascribed status
          • Modern society (pattern variables B) students are expected to pursue their own indiv. self interest, achieving their status through their efforts in educ., attained through deferred grat
    • Social Change
      • How do the 2 types change? The change is gradual, with increasing complexity and structural differentiation
  • status roles also come in clusters known as institutions - eg. family. additionally related institutions group together to make sub-systems whose function is to meet societies needs (eg. shops/factories.farms = economy for material needs)
  • GOAL ATTAINMENT: society needs to set goals and allocate resources to achieve them - function of the political sub system through parliament
    • Untitled

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