Functionalism and the New Right



Focuses on Social structures - Structuralist Theory - Generally positivist.

See human behaviour as beyond your control. See society as social system made up of inter-dependant insititions that create socal order (human body ananlogy).

Capitalist socities characterised by social order, dependant on four social processes.


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1) Successful socialisation into value consensus

Primary socialisation teaches basic norms and values (gender roles, right and wrong, etc).

Secondary agents of socialisation (education), transmits cultural values, making conformity and consensus. Parsons argues education acts as a social bridge between family and wider societ. Also teaches value of individualism to prepare for work.

Durkheim argues religion socialises member into value consensus by infusing values with religious symbolism, making them moral codes (family teach children and obey). These regulate our behaviour in crime, sex and duty.

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2) Social Integration

Social agencies like education teach a sense of belonging to a scoiety or community.

The mass media may create the conditions for social integration through promoting nationalism or moral panics.

Religion creates moral communitites.

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3) Social Control

Once members of society have been socialised into values, they need to be morally regulated.

Values are reinofrced by agents of social control eg family, religion.

Formal agenices of control eg law, police encourage people to conform.

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4) Society organised into suitable jobs

Encouraged by education, which transmits skills and attitudes eg exams, qualifications, then allocated to suitable job. Families encourage commitement to career.

However Durkheim argues value consensus is weaker in industrial societies as the speed/extent of social and economic change is unsettling for some. Also the complexity of modern life has undermined authority of religion and family. Thus, more anomie in city-dwellers (Anomie = sense of normlessness or moral confusion). Thus, they are less comitted to society rules/laws, more likely to comit crime.

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Over-deterministic - suggests social behaviour only becuase of spocial factors, ignores choice.

Over-socialised - some people resist four processes.

Ignores social conflict in modern society - too much emphaisise on consensus, apart from Durkheim's anomie theory.

Ignores dysfunctions of social insititutions eg family with domestic violence.

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The New Right

Point to single-parent family as indicator as decline in moral standards. Murray said they are part of 'underclass' that appeared in inner city. Socialises into deviant values. They see conncetion between them, educational failure and deliquincy. In 'Families Without Fatherhood', Dennis and Erdos see rise in this fmaily type as worrying. These children associated with anti-social behaviour, more than peers in two-parent families. These problems worse in inner-city areas and poor areas, like London.

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Functionalism and Crime and Deivance

Important aspect of theory is that definitions of normality and deviance is result of shared norms and values and deviant is who breaks them. Durkheim argues society was consensual and majority share conformity values. Suggests every society shares collective conscience, the more behaviour differs the more it is seen as deviant. Functionalists argue formal/informal social controls set out deviant rules. As societies became more complex, socialisatipn agenices less able to do job. Thus, more crime and deviance in modern societies than pre-industrial ones.

Durkheim saw two sides of crime - Positive, help society change. Negetive side, too much crime leads to social disruption.

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Functionalism and Social Inequality

Davis and Moore open debate on functions of stratification. They saw it as a permanent, universal feature of human society, because it is neccessary to...

Place people in suitable jobs - role allocation.

Motivate people through income/status.

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