This is a macro approach – they are large-scale theories (grand narratives). It is based on value consensus and that society has needs that have to be met in order to survive. 

A system of thinking that looks at a large scale of society so that society is balanced – social equilibrium

Focuses on institutions rather than social facts. Social facts = ways of thinking and acting by society that existed before anyone individual and will still exist after death 

Institutions meet the needs of society: 

-Education systems -  Mass media- Marriage- Religion 

-Financial systems -  Non-governmental organisations - Law - Military 

-Businesses -  Medicine 

Founded by Emile Durkheim 

-Advance study of sociology as a scientific discipline through positivist methodology

-Social order is maintained through social cohesion 

-Social institutions maintain society  

-Social norms and values evolve to move society forwards 

Society as a system – Parsons   

System organisations - human body and society are self-regulating of interrelated, independent parts that fit together in fixed ways  

System needs - the human body has needs and if they are not met the organism will die. Functionalists see that society has basic needs and they have to be met for society to survive and function

Functions – the function of any part of the system is the contribution it makes to meeting the systems needs, ensuring its survival 

The systems needs (AGIL) – Parsons 

Adaptations – the social system meets its members material needs through the economic sub-system 

Goal Attainment – society needs to set goals and allocate recourses to achieve them. (function of the political sub-system). 

Integrations – different parts of the system must be integrated together to pursue shared goals. (function of the religion, education and media sub-systems)

Latency – the process that maintains society over time. The kin-ship sub-system provides pattern maintenance and tension management

Social change – Parsons

•There are 2 types of societies – traditional and modern. Each has its own set of norms. Traditional societies are expected to put collective interests first, status is ascribed, etc. Modern societies want to pursue their own individual self-interests, achieve status, etc. 

•Societies gradually change from one to the other and the change is complex and increasing in structural differentiation 

•As societies develop, the kin-ship system loses some function (factories, political parties, schools, churches, etc) – structural differentiation 

Merton internal


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