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Macro structural theory
- Focuses on the needs of the social system as a whole
Consensus theory
- Sees society as based on a basic agreement
Modernist theory
- Shares the goals of the enlightenment project
Functionalists believe that we can obtain…

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This is done through socialisation and social control
- We are taught to do what the system requires us to do and we are rewarded for
complying or punished for deviating

Parsons believes adaptation and goal attainment are instrumental needs ( the means to an
He believes that integration…

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Affective Neutrality
- Deferred gratification
- E.g. staying on at school
- Pursue your own self interests

Change is gradual, evolutionally process of increasing complexity and structural
Societies move from simple to complex structures
E.g. the family used to perform all functions of the AGIL scheme
- As…

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Criticisms outside the functionalist approach

Sharrock et al. (2003)­ Argues that there are several main criticisms of functionalism:
Functionalism overemphasizes the level of agreement of consensus in society
- Apart from the simplest of societies, people have different values and attitudes within
the same society
Parsons suggests that society is…

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They dispute criticisms of Parsons that suggest he is not interested in how people act
They argue that with some modification Parsonian theory can allow for people to be more
`reflexive', making decisions for themselves
These modifications to the theory also help explain social change


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Marxists and Functionalists
What They Agree on:

Society is a structure or system that shapes individuals' behaviours and ideas
What They Disagree on:

Marxists reject the functionalist view that the social structure runs harmoniously and is
based on consensus
- Instead they believe that the social structure is based on…

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By creating class polarisation and brining the proletariat together and lowering their
wages, Marx believed that capitalism creates the right environment for the working class
to change from:
- A class in itself (where the members all have the same economic position
- Into a class for itself that has…

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Capitalism changed significantly after Marx's death with the introduction of a wide range
of health, pension, housing and welfare benefits
- All of which were missing from Marx's analysis


The basic model of Marxist theory has provided the platform for an entire tradition of…

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According to Althusser, the economic system has ultimate control, but the political and
ideological have significant degrees of independence or autonomy
In reality, this means that politics and culture develop and change in response to many
different forces, not just economic ones
Althusser used the term relative autonomy to describe…

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For example, smiling is symbolic behaviour that might be interpreted as social approval
Experience of symbolic interaction results in people acquitting knowledge about what is
appropriate behaviour in particular situations
They earn that particular contexts demand particular social responses
For example, drinking and dancing at a party is regarded as…


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