Introduction to Functionalism




  • interpretivist.


  • oldest of the 'grand theories'.
  • Parsons was a american theorist and Durkheim was a UK theorist. 
  • Durkheims view of society can be broadly described as 'functionalist'. 
       * had the idea that society can be understood scientifically and that human behaviour is governed by a set of understandable 'laws' designed to preserve the 'health' of the wider society. 
  • Functionalists argue that society cannot be understood as a series of isolated component parts.
       * sometimes described as a 'consensus theory' because functionalists see society as based on shared values. 
  • Functionalists believe human relationships are governed by rules that reflect the values of society and that those rules and values are then turned into sets of roles and models. 
       * rule-governed social relationships become the framework or structure of society. 
       * family, education system and political system are all part of this structure. 
        + referred to institutions of society by functionalists.
  • Key Principles : 
       * socities need basic needs to live. They are called functional prerequisties. Includes basic things such as producing enough food and housing for the population. 
  • functionalists see society as a system made up of interconnected parts like a machine. Society have to work together or it will breakdown. The 'machine' of society works when a value consensus exists. A general agreement along members of society about the important values that they hold in common. 
  • believes society needs order…


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