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Theory and Methods Revision
A consensus, structural,
macro theory rooted in the
work of Durkheim and refined
by Parsons & Merton.
They see society as
harmonious and stable with
social order and cohesion
maintained by a fundamental
value consensus
Key People:
Durkheim, Merton, Parsons…read more

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Organic Analogy
· Used by Talcott Parsons to show how society act like living
Organism ­ Series of organs which are interconnected and interdependent on each
· Parsons says society is like this as social structures are
interconnected and dependant on each other
· They see change as evolutionary ­ change in one part of
society will eventually occur in another
· Social ills e.g. Crime, have disabling effects on society and
gradually effect other parts
· They recognise interconnections between various parts of
society occur due to a value consensus
Value consensus - agreed social norms and values
· Socialisation helps pass these norms and values onto the…read more

Slide 3

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Mechanical & Organic Solidarity
· These are the two types of social solidarity Durkheim believed
Mechanical Solidarity ­ These societies have people involved in similar roles so
labour divisions' simple. Therefore, a similar lifestyle is lived with common
shared norms and values and beliefs. They have a consensus of opinion on
moral issues giving society a social solidarity to guide behaviour. As there is a
societal agreement, there is pressure to follow the value consensus, so therefore
most do.
Organic Solidarity ­ Industrialisation meant population grew rapidly with
urbanisation occurring. As society develops, a division of labour occurs. This is
when work becomes separate from the home and the state organises the
education, health care and criminal justice systems. A parent back then would
be the teacher, doctor, judge and jury as well as a parent.
Today people have such diverse and specialist roles moral codes have
weakened and anomie has occurred (lack of norms and values and self-control).
Social order is no-longer based on having a common set of values but rather is
enshrined in the law…read more

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Parsons social System, 1951
· For a healthy consensus, Parsons believed four issues
needed to be resolved:
Perquisite Description Subsystem
Goal Attainment Society share a common aim Political system e.g. Political
and a way of achieving it parties, pressure groups,
parliament and state agencies
Adaption Relationship between The economy e.g. factories
environment and society and mining use primary
needed e.g. to survive to resources and shops pass
provided shelter and food these on as secondary
Integration Making people they are apart Mass Media, criminal justice
of something bigger than system, education, religion,
themselves and look out for hidden curriculum and formal
societies interests before their controls
Pattern Maintenance Motivation to make people Family & religion give
play their part in society and socialisation and social
won't be side tracked into control supporting times of
personal conflicts need…read more

Slide 5

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Social Change
· Social change usually occurs through evolution not revolution
when new function emerge or when society need to adapt
· A small change in one area will lead to changes elsewhere in
the system
· Change therefore trickles through society
· E.g. Scientific discoveries enabled improvements in health
care improving the family and education system
· Parsons believes as society changes, it develops and the
pattern variables within them will become more complex…read more

Slide 6

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Strengths of Functionalism
· Recognises importance of social structure in understanding
society, how it constrains individual behaviour and how major
social institutions have links between them e.g. family,
education and economy
· Provides an explanation for social stability and why most
conform to rules of social life…read more

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