Functionalsim Theory: Parsons

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  • Created by: Megan
  • Created on: 08-05-15 11:07
What is the organic analogy?
Saying society is like a biological organism. All of the parts of society work together e.g. education system and the family much like the parts of the body work together
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How does Parsons suggest social order is possible?
Through the existence of a shared culture or a central value system.
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What is a culture?
A set of norms, values, beliefs and goals shared by members of society. It provides a framework that allows individuals to cooperate by laying down rules about how they should behave, the goals they should pursue etc.
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What is Value Consensus?
Members of society agreeing on norms and values. It is the glue that holds society together. Its basic function is to make social order possible.
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What are the two mechanisms for ensuring idividuals conform according to parsons?
1)Socialisation 2)Social Control
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*** does Socialisation ensure individuals conform?
Through the socailisation process, individuals internalise the systems norms and valuesso that society becomes part of their personality structure.
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How does Social Control ensure individuals confrom?
Positive sanctions reward conformity, while negative ones punish deviance e.g. if value system stresses individual achievement through educational sucess, those who conform will be rewarded with diplomas, those who deviate will be stigmatised
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What approach does Parsons take to describing the social system?
The building block approach. At the bottom is the individual actions, ecah action is governed by norms,norms come in clusters called 'status-roles', status roles come in clusters known in institutions, each institution is grouped into a sub-system, t
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What is the 'AGIL schema' ?
The four basic needs identified by Parsons, each need is met by a separate sub system.
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What does AGIL stand for?
A-Adaptation G-Goal Attainment I-Intefration L-Latency
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What is meant by adaptation?
The social system meets its members material needs. These needs are met by the economic sub-system
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What is meant by Goal Attainment?
Society needs to set goals and allocate resources to achieve them. This is through the function of the political sub-system
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What is meant by Integration?
The different parts of the system must be integrated together in order to pursue shared goals. This is performed by the sub-system of religion and the media
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What is meant by Latency?
the process that maintains society over time. The kinship sub-system provides patteen maintenance and tension management
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What are the two types of society that Parsons identifies?
Traditional and modern
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What are individuals expected to pursue in modern society?
Their own individual self-interest, achieving their status through efforts in education. They are all judged by the same universal standards (exams)
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How is an individuals status attained in traditional society?
It is ascribed at birth and they are expected to put the kinship groups interests before their own
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How does Parsons see change?
as gradual, societies move from simple to complex structures
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Define Moving Equilibrium
Once one area in society changes, another also changes to compensate
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How does Merton internally criticise Parsons?
he says we cannot assume that society is always a smooth running, well integrated system. Some things may be functional for some groups but dysfunctional for others
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What does Merton mean by Manifest and Latent functions?
Manifest- the intended function Latent- unintended function. e.g rain dance is intended to bring about rain, unintentionally it also encourages social solidarity
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How does Parsons suggest social order is possible?


Through the existence of a shared culture or a central value system.

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What is a culture?


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What is Value Consensus?


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What are the two mechanisms for ensuring idividuals conform according to parsons?


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