Structuralism

Basic outline of the key concepts of structural theories

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  • Created by: Evie
  • Created on: 01-05-14 19:16
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  • Structuralism- Concerned with the overall structure of society and the social institutions
    • Favour Positivist methods
      • Quantitative data
      • Scientific/Objective
      • Offical Statistics, Lab experiments etc.
    • Consensus Structuralism
      • Functionalism- Society as a unit of interconnected parts which fit together to form an integrated whole
        • Parsons
          • Functional Prerequisites- basics needs or requirements that must be met if society is to survive. (e.g production of food). Social institutions work to satisfy these basic needs
          • GAIL model
          • Structural differentiation- as society evolves and new needs arise institutions become more specialised and functions they once performed are lost to new institutions
        • Durkheim
          • People are selfish and anomie would occur if there was not a collective conscience (people sharing common norms and values).
        • Functionalists regard social change as occurring when new functions emerge or society needs to adapt.
        • Merton
          • Dysfunction- a part of the social structure which does not contribute to the maintenance and well being of society but creates tensions and other problems
          • There were manifest functions of an institution (intended and recognised consequences) but also latent functions (unintended and unrecognised consequences)
    • Conflict Structuralism
      • Marxism- The economy was the driving force in society and it was this that determined social institutions and people's values and beliefs
        • Marx
          • Society is divided into 2 main parts- The economic base or infrastructure, consisting of the means of production and the relations of production, and the superstructure which is determined by the infrastructure.
          • Society is divided into two fundamental social classes: the owners of the means of production and the non-owners.
            • Workers produce more than is needed and this surplus value provides profit for the employer
            • Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat who sell their labour power to the capitalists.
            • The dominant ideology was that of the ruling class and the major institutions and superstructure of society reflects those ideas
              • The working-class are almost brainwashed into accepting their position and so do not rebel. This is false conciousness
          • Believed that one day they would become aware and the two classes would polarize. The working-class would join together and overthrow the bourgeoisie and communism would be created
        • Neo-Marxism- Further developed ideas of Marxism
          • Gramsci
            • Relative autonomy- the  idea that the superstructure of society has some independence from the economy, rather than being directly determined by it
            • Hegemony- the dominance in society of the ruling class's set of ideas over others, and acceptance of and consent to them by the rest of society
              • The main reasons why the working class have never rebelled.
          • Althusser
            • The structure of capitalist society consists of not just the economic base and superstructure but of 3 levels:
              • The economic level- economy and production of material goods
              • The political level- The government and the repressive state apparatus
              • The ideological level- concerned with ideas, beliefs and values including the Ideological State Apparatus

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