How do functionalists explain the unequal distribution of wealth?

  • Created by: Ryan62835
  • Created on: 12-10-18 11:10

What is Functionalism? + Key Terms

Functionalismis a theory which claims everything has a role to play to ensure society is "healthy", including poverty. 

Key Terms:

  • Consensus 
  • Social solidarity 
  • Meritocratic
1 of 4

Davis and Moore

Davis and Moore (1967) claimed that:

  • Some jobs in society are more "functionally" important for society, which require more skill. 
  • People with the ability need to be encouraged to take on these important jobs through incentives. 
  • It gives people a reason to work. 
2 of 4

Following on...

Following on from Davis and Moore, Gans (1973) added that:

  • The prospect of poverty ensures that all jobs, even the most undesireable jobs are filled.
  • Poverty creates jobs e.g. social workers
  • The threat of poverty will encourage people to work hard which will reinforce values of society. 
  • Low paid work keeps some industries running. 
3 of 4


It is important to determine which position in society is more importnat - it is just personal opinion. 

  • Some people who have high levels of wealth have inherited it, not worked for it through functional purposes.
  • Not all people work for material rewards, some people are motivated by other things.
  • Poverty is not functional for the people in poverty and it can cause heartache for families and single parents who are trying to make ends meet. 
4 of 4


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Poverty, wealth and welfare resources »