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THEORIES AND METHODS

STRUCTURAL APPROACHES:
Attempt to provide a complete theory of society. Begin their analyses from the `top', looking first at
society as a whole and then working down to the individual parts, and finally the individuals.

i.e. Functionalists, Feminists, Marxists

SOCIAL ACTION APPROACHES:
Do not seek to provide…

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FUNCTIONALISM




Talcott Parsons: aimed to provide a theoretical framework that combines the ideas of-

Weber, who stressed the importance of understanding people's actions
Durkheim, who emphasised the necessity of focusing on the structures of societies and how
they unction.

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STRUCTURAL THEORY:
Sees society as a social system made up of interrelated and interdependent institutions such as
education and work.

Parson's starting point was the organic analogy:

He imagined society as similar to a living being
That adapts to its environment and is made up of component parts,
Each performing…

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PATTERN VARIABLES:
For a society to exist, it must fulfil the functional prerequisites listed above.
People must act in a certain way to fulfil society's needs and ensure its continuation.
Culture: emphasizes that members of society ought to act in particular ways to ensure that
the functional prerequisites are met.…

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STRENGTHS WEAKNESSES SYNOPTIC LINKS
NEO-FUNCTIONALISM: Robert Merton (1957): functionalist
Mouzelis (1995) and Alexander but criticised Parsons:
(1985): -Some institutions can be both
Both these writers argue strongly dysfunctional for society as well as
for the overall systematic functional- i.e. religion
approach provided by Parsons. -Merton suggests that Parsons
Argue that…

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no reason to change them. Unless,
therefore, there are some external
changes which impact on the four
functional prerequisites, societies
should never change in form.




NEW RIGHT:
ORIGINS
They are conservative thinkers
Extension of functionalism
American concept- Charles Murray
Adopted by Reagan, Thatcher, Cameron- particularly in times of
economic depression-…

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Thatcher: Family is the building block of society- her Family Policy group supported mothers
staying at home- `there is no such thing as society'
John Redwood: 1993 in Westminster: `Natural state should be two-adult family caring for
their children'




OPINIONS ON THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

Laws upheld in society are…

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SOCIAL STRATIFICATION

SAUNDERS: three types of equality:

All members of society subject to same laws/rules- LEGAL EQUALITY
EQUALITY OF OPPURTUNITY
EQUALITY OF OUTCOME- he rejects

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