First 502 words of the document:
Functionalism is concerned with explaining the origin and maintenance of order and stability
in society. The key points of the functional perspective can be summarised by a comparison
to society, the various parts of society are seen to be interrelated taken together they form a
complete system. To understand any part of society such as the family or religion, that part
must be seen in relation to society as a whole. A biologist will examine a body part such as
the heart in terms of its contribution to the maintenance of the human organisms the
functionalist will examine a part of society, such as the family, in terms of its contribution to
the maintenance of the social system. In practice the term "function" is usually used to
indicate the contribution an institution makes to the maintenance and survival of the social
system a major function of the family is the socialisation of new members of society.
Functionalism is a consensus theory where the theorists believe the shared culture
interrogates individuals by giving them a sense of solidarity. It enables the members of
society to agree on goals and how to achieve them and so allows them to cooperate
Functionalism begins with the theory that behaviour in society is structured.
Values provide general guidelines for behaviour and they are translated into more
specific directives known as "norms" and "values" (stability largely depends on
these learned shared norms and values)
The main parts of society are its institutions: such as the family, economy,
educational and political systems are major aspects of the social structure.
Murdock (1949) Argues that the family has four main functions:
Reproduction providing stability for the reproduction and the rearing of children.
Economic food and shelter for all its members.
Sexualexpressing sexuality in a socially approved context. (social disapproval to
incest, adultery, homosexuality)
Socialisation primary socialisation children learn socially acceptable behaviour and
culture of their society, helping to build the idea of value consensus and maintaining a
Murdock regards these functions as a necessity in any society and suggests that the ideal
nuclear family is said to be found in every society, visibly this is not the case as there is
different living arrangements other than the nuclear family.
In the view of Parsons the functions which the family perform are merely down to the kind of
society in which it was found. Britain began to industrialise from the late 18th century
onwards, the usually extended family began to give way to the more acceptable nuclear
family as society was changing due to different approaches to job. The emerging industrial
society had different needs to the preindustrial society, and the family began to adapt to the
needs of society.
Other pages in this set
Here's a taster:
Parsons argues that the industrial society has two basic needs:
A geographically mobile workforce: Pre industrial people often spent their whole life
in the village in contrast many people moved to where the jobs were. Parsons
argues that the nuclear family is better suited to the modern industry than an
A socially mobile workforce: Modern society is more technological and evolving
constantly requiring a skilled workforce this is essential because as technology
progresses employers are looking for talented people to take essential jobs.…read more