A2 functionalism theory

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The establishment and maintenance of social order:

According to Durkheim people are basically selfish unless they learn to share common values and commit to co-operation then society would then fall in to chaos and disorder. As a result Durkheim placed grate value on socializing people in to value consensus.

This means a widespread agreement on norms and values and moral belifes.

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The establishment and maintenance of social order:

Parsons and Durkheim both believed that the agencies of socialisation were important in building a value consensus and maintaining social order

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Society as a social system

  • A structure of interrelated parts which fit together to form an intergraded whole  social institutions are  analysed in terms of the contribution they make to the maintenance of this system 
  • They draw an analogy between the workings of the human body and the workings of society
  • Society has what parsons calls functional perquisites 
  • Social institutions are connected and work together to meet functional prerequisites 
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Gail model

 Parsons says for society to survive 4 functional prerequisites must be met GAIL model

  •  Goal attainment – the selection and definition of a society’s priorities and aims and goals
  • Adaptation- adapting to the environment  
  • Integration – coordinating all parts of the social system to achieve shared goals
  • Latency- minimising social tension
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Social change and evolution

  • Social change occurs when new functions emerge or society needs to adapt
  • Change is a slow evolutionary process as gradual shifts occur in social values
  • All parts in society are linked
  • The system will remain balanced
  • Parsons explains this in terms of structural differentiation   
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Manifest and latent functions and the concept of d

  • Merton was critical of parsons
  • Merton agued in a complex social system there is a lot that can go wrong and there may be unforeseen consequences
  • Introduced the concept of dysfunction when some parts of the social structure do not work as intended and there can be negative consequences
  • Dysfunctions can affect every part of the social system
  • Manifest functions
  • Latent functions       
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