- Social Institutions work like organs within the human body for society (Family, education, religion, law enforcement.)
- Functional Imperatives: Goal attainment, adaption, integration, latency (pattern maintenance)
- Structures of society - medicine, families, education, religion
- Functional sub-systems - economic, political, family/kinship and cultural systems
- When socialisation is inadequate or where social change is rapid anomie can occur. This is a state of normlessness.
- Education: socialise individuals into norms and values, allocates individuals into a class based society through meritocratic principles.
- Health: Medicine performs a vital social control function by limiting acess to the sick role
- Religion: Integrates people and provides support and guidance.
- Crime: Occurs due to blocked opportunities and from sub-cultural pressures.
Critisms:The theory is ideologically driven. Therefore it is reductionsist
Functionalism - Strengths and Weaknesses
- Detailed theoretical perspective
- It demonstrates the links between major social institutions for e.g. education, religion and the economy
- Parson's and Durkheim's work has provided insight that has helped modern sociologists to understand contemporary societies
- Tends to over-emphasise the harmonious nature of society by ignoring differences between groups of individuals.
- They try to explain the beginning of a social institution by its function. However we know that certain functions such as religion's function have been diluted and be questioned.
- Functionalism proovides an inadequate explanations of social change.
- Social class (ecomonic - ownership of the means of production)
- False class consciousness - the working class are unaware of the full extent of their exploitation
- Social Structure - Capitalist
- Althusser - Ideological/Repressive State Apparatus
- Economic base (infrastructure) and political/ideological superstructure
- Forms of (non-economic) conflict (gender, ethinicity) ignored in forms of economic conflicts.
- Education: Serves to reproduce and justify the social class structure through its socialisation role, allocated individuals to jobs on the basis of social class rather than merit
- Health: Medicine maintains a healthy workforce and difrects attention away from the social causes of ill health
- Religion: Prevents social change and is the 'opiate of the masses'
- Crime: Causes by economic inequalitty and capitalist values, laws are created to maintain the power and privilege of the ruling class, the police selectively enforce the law against the working class
Marxism - Strengths and Weaknesses
- it has a large theoretical appeal and has been a major influence on other theories
- It also attempts to link the structural elements of society with the consciousness of the individual
- Marxisms accounts for the relvolutionary upheaval as societies go throught large-scale change
- Critised for over-emphasising conflict in society. Functionalist say that for society to work there has to be harmony and shared values
- Also critised for its economic determinism. Economic nesds shape everything in society
- The evidence of communism not working shows that the Marxism theorus in longer viable. The promise of conmmunism has been replaced by the desire for western-style democracies.
- Gender inequality - e.g. laws and status
- female biology - through pregnancy and size, marriage, sex
- Men are the enemy of women (adovate same sex relationships/ female support groups)
- Public sphere (work) and private sphere (the home) - dual form of female exploitation
- technology (e.g.freedom from child) emancipation can be achieved
- Social change - evolutionary not forced
- laws needed / used to redress males/ female power imbalance
- Equality of opportunity - main weapon - legal system (anti-discrimination, equal pay, child-care, maternal rights, equal legal and social rights
- Class inequality - cause of female oppression, expolitation and discrimination
- Family system benefits capitalism and men e.g. domestic labour
- Do not see men as the enemy (radical) - have to live together in harmony
Society actively constructed through social interaction
labelling thoery (master labels, categorisation, stereotypes)
Role Play (ascription and achievement)
Society has no objective existence (society = elaborate fiction)
- Focus on small-scale, relatively trival, aspects of social life
- Over-emphasis on "the individual" (and their common sense, subjective, interpretations)
The New Right
Individual superior to the collective
State as "oppressive of individual freedom"
Traditional family roles/gender freedom
- Over-emphasis on individuals at expense of social structures
- Ignore inequality of class, gender, status and power
- ignore role of culture in the shaping of social identites
Post - Modernism
Culture and identity (gender, age, ethinicity)
Rejection of postivism (science as ideology)
Consumerism/ Consumer Culture
In-groups and out-groups (one of us or one of them)
Social construction of reality (subjective realities not objective realities)
Reject ideology of "progress"
- Post-modern society is ideology invention
- Over-emphasis on individuals, consumers, choice etc
- Under-emphasis on how "choice" is socially created/produced
- Ignore power structures in society
- Social class clearly realted to life chances
Structuration (social action and social structure)
Market postion (economic dimension of stratification)
Conflict (across class, gender, age, ethnicity, religion, etc) - basis for stratification
Life Chances - Status groups and interest groups
Multi-casual analysis (e.g. religion and capitalism) and Value freedom
- Over emphasis on motives, interpretations on individuals
- Emphasis on subjective interpretations of individuals downgrades importance of social structures
- Impossible to clearly identify social structures
- Reduces individual actions and motivations to social structures
- Over emphasis on cultural conditions and changes at expense of ecomonic conditions