Functionalism (Theory) Evaluation Unit 4

Taken from class notes and a revision booklet created by my teacher.

  • Created by: Ray22
  • Created on: 22-05-13 22:19

Functionalism (Theory) Evaluation Unit 4

AdvantagesGetting Started

  • It was the first major attempt to produce a grand theory of society
  • Successfully demonstrates that social institutions are linked together
  • Allows us to understand the functions (manifest & latent) of social rituals and institutions
  • Examines the importance of primary socialisation for any social order to be possible


  • Places too much emphasis on harmony - fails to address competing power interests
  • Fails to provide an adequate explanation of social change - all change may not be evolutionary
  • By accepting the status quo they have an inherently conservative view
  • Teleological - explain the origins of any social institution by the function it performs for society


It is criticised as deterministic by the ACTION, CONFLICT and POSTMODERN approaches. However due to being a complete theory of society, it overlooks the detail in societies and communities. The idea is too idealistic and fails to explain the cracks in society that are results of the failing system and lack of social change. It provides an analysis to underpin some approaches to social policy in the New Right today. The Conservative Party seems to use many parts of this theory as a basis for their policy. Exam practice: Refer to an area you are familiar with i.e. The family, education etc. as evidence when assessing the usefulness of functionalist contributors.


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