Structural differentiation

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  • Parsons: Structural differentiation
    • Definition: A process of specialisation that occurs with the development of industrial society.
    • Separate, specialised institutions develop to carry out functions previously performed by a single institution (The Church).
    • Even when religion continues to perform functions such as education or social welfare, it must conform to demands of the secular state.
      • Example: teachers in faith schools must hold qualifications that are recognised by the state.
    • Religion was dominate in pre-industrial society, but with industrialisation it has become a smaller and more specialised institution.
    • Leads to the "disengagement of religion." (it's functions are transferred to other institutions such as the state and it becomes disconnected from wider society.)
      • Example: the church loses the influence it once had on education, social welfare and the law.
    • Bruce: Religion has become separated from wider society and lost many of its former functions.
      • It's become "privatised." (Confined to the private sphere of the home and family.)
    • Church and state tend to be separate in modern society.
      • Modern states increasingly accept that the state should not be identified with one particular faith.

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