Theories- LT1 Functionalist

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  • Created by: Heather
  • Created on: 11-04-16 10:08
What type of theory is Functionalism?
A consensus theory,
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What type of arguments does it present?
Stuctural arguments,
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Who created Functionalism and what does it study?
-Durkheim, -Society as a whole,
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How does Functionalism see contemporary society?
As a system with all parts inter-related and working together to meet the needs of society,
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What do they compare the operation of society with?
The living organism (the body) in human analogy theory,
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Describe human analogy theory?
Society operates like the body with interdependent strucutres of society such as family as the heart, education and religion,
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What are the four sub-systems that every society is made up of?
Economic, -Political, -Family, -Cultural,
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What is the function of sub-systems?
To maintain a healthy society,
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What is the function of cultural systems for individuals?
Socialise individuals to conform to society's norms and values,
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What does this create and what is the definition?
Value consensus, -A shared agreement of norms and values by all individuals in society,
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According to Parsons, what does value consensus maintain?
It maintains social order so society is able to function properly, creating a stable and harmonious society,
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Due to social order, how does Parsons describe social change as a result?
Social chanmge will be slow and gradually evolves,
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For human analogy, if one part of the system becomes dysfunctional, what happens to others?
It affects all other aspects of society,
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Give an example with dysfunctional families?
Dysfunctional families have been connected to crime, mental illness and low levels of educational achievement, and so social order and stability is threatened,
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What two things can cause aspects of society to become dysfunctional?
When socialisation is inadequate, -When social change or rapid anomie occurs,
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How does Durkheim describe anomie and what does it mean?
-A state of normlessness, which is when society is unsure of what social norms are,
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What do Functionalist maintain about social inequality?
In society is is both inevitable and functional,
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Why do Functionalist see social inequality as functional?
It acts as a motivator for people to strive for high social class positions,
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What sociologist argue society has four basic needs and what two things ensure these needs are met?
-Parsons, -A shared system, -Each need is met by a separate sub-system of institutions,
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What are these four basic needs?
AGIL -Adaptation, -Goal attainment, -Integration, -Latency
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What is adapation as a need?
Meetin members material needs (met by economic sub-system e.g. shops, farms, banks)
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What is goal attainment as a need?
Set goals and allocate resources to achieve them (Function of the political sub-system e.g. Parliament)
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What is integration as a need?
Parts of the system should be co-ordinated together to achieve shared goals e.g. religion education,
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What is latency as a need?
Process that maintains society over time E.g. family- socialisation, role allocation, tension management,
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What sociologist suggested we can understand social phenomena with what two functions to find hidden meanings of behaviour or actions?
-Merton, -Manifest Function and Latency function,
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What is the definition of Manifest function?
Intended action or behaviour,
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What is the definition of the Latency function?
Unintended action,
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Give an example of the manifest and latency function with the one child policy?
Manifest function- Reduce population growth, Latent function-Promotes social citizenship, collective responsibility, increase in child centredness,
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However, what does Merton suggest about Functionalist explanations and assuming?
Merton suggests we cannot simply assume that society is always well-integrated and running smoothly,
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What does he argue about functionality and different groups?
Merton argues some things can be functional for some groups but dysfunctional for others,
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What conflicts does Merton say may occur and why?
Merton says there may be conflicts of interest and that some groups have the power to keep-arrangements in place that benefit them,
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Give an example of Mertons arguments and how?
London riots- Not everyone is socialised intothe norms and values given by society, anomie occurs and causes unwanted behaviour such as criminality,
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For Functionalist views on education, what is the function of educational systems and how?
To socialise individuals into norms and values through the formal and hidden curriculum
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What is the vital role of educational systems?
They allocate individuals into a class based society through meritocratic principles.
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What Functionalist used evidence to show that the best do achieve?
-Pete Saunders,
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What study did Pete Saunders use for his study?
-Used evidence from the National child development study, a longitudinal study of 17,000 children born in 1958.
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What did Pete Saunders find?
-Found that occupational status is closely realted to ability and effort. Thus, supporting functionalist ideas on a meritocratic education system,
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For Functionalist views on family, how do they place it in society?
They see family as being the heart of society,
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What sociologist claimed that the family is so useful to society is is what?
-Murdock, -Claimed that the family is so useful to society that it is inevitable and universal,
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What is one of the main functions of the family and what does this do?
-Primary socialisation, -Through which children learn to accept and value the norms and values of society,
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For Functionalist views on religion, what role in society do Functionalists suggest religion plays?
A functional and positive role,
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Why does religion play a functional and positive role in society?
It integrates people and provides support and guidance,
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What book published by Durkheim describes religion as the primary force for what?
'The Elementary Forms of Religion Life, -Social regulation,
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What neo-Functionalist beleived that religion still performs what essential functions?
-Bellah, -Beleives religion performs essential social functions, but on a more individualised basis,
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For Functionalist explanations of crime, what kind of explanation do they offer of crime and deviance?
A structural causal explanation,
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Where do they argue the causes of crime lie?
Lie within the social structure of society and subcultures,
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What sociologists believed crime can be positive and why?
-Durkheim, -Helps to clarify boundaries of acceptable behaviour and generate change,
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How do Functionalists see sociology and how do they study society?
-See sociology as a science, -Study sociology using a positivist approach,
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Give an example of what sociologists development of a concept to help him explain and research society?
-Durkheim, -'Social fact',
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What methods are needed to discover 'social fact' and examples?
Scientific research methods such as uestionnaires, strucutred itnerviews and official statistics,
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What is one strength of these scientific research methods about comparisons?
Quantitative data can be gathered which allows for comparisons to be made,
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Give an example of this strength with what study by Durkheim?
-Suicide study, -Dukheim was able to compare suicide statistics in a range of countries to develop his theory of suicide,
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Therefore, what does this suggest about the methods used by Functionalists?
They ar eobjective,
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However, what is one weakness of scientific research methods?
Little qualitative data is gathered,
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Give an example with Durkheim and his sucidie study?
Durkheim did not find out the individual reasons as to why people committed suicide,
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What does this suggest about Functionalist studies?
They lack depth and detail about feelings and emotions,
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For evaluation of Functionalism, what is a strength of Functionalist approaches about how Functionalism gained wider theoretical appeal?
It is underlying ideas have been taken up by other structural perspectives and has generated new theories and research,
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Give an example of a theory who has been generated from Functionalist ideas and what do they both believe about the family?
-The New Right, -Believe family is the 'heart' of society,
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What is another evaluative strength about how functionalism is useful?
It is useful in a modern society,
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Durkheim and Parson's work have provided insights that have helped who to understand what?
-Helped modern sociologists, -To understand contemporary societies,
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What is a positive about their basic assumptions and an example?
They still guide much sociological research. For example the idea that society is whole and social structured which directs human behaviour,
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However, for evaluation, what theory has criticised Functionalism?
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Why do Marxists criticse functionalism?
For its inability to explain conflict e.g. between the working and ruling class,
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What do Marxists suggest that society is build on?
Suggest that society is built on conflict not consensus,
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Therefore, what do they argue Functionalists over-emphasise?
The harmonious nature of society and fails to see that some groups are disadvantaged,
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Therefore, it can be argued Functionalism looks at the world like what?
With a rose-tinted view/ 'rose-tinted glasses'
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What is another weakness of Funtionalist about about assuming things and an example
-The theory is too deterministic, -They argue that how we behave within society is determined by social structures and the social system,
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What does this suggest about individuals and what kind of view do they portray about society?
-Individuals have no free will, -A pessimistic view of society,
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Another weakness of Functionalism is that it is teleology. What does this mean?
Explaining things exist through their effect,
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What do critics of Functionalism argue that a real explanation is?
It identifies a cause, as a cause must come before an effect,
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Give an example of a Functionalist claim showing teleology?
Functionalist claim that the family exists because children need to be socialised- It explains the familys existance through its effect,
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For the last evaluative weakness of Functionalism, what argument can be see an inadequate?
An inadequate socialisation of social change,
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Why is the Functionalist explanation of social change inadequate?
It simplystates that if change does occur it will be due to evolutionary factors rather than anything else,
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However, what suggests this isn't always the case?
Rapid social change that sometimes occurs in society,
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To conclude, what do Functionalists provide a useful insight?
They provide a useful insight into the workings of society,
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However, how is the theory driven?
It is ideologically driven,
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Therefore, why is the theory reductionist?
As it fails to take into account competing theoretical ideas,
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Why are Postmodernists critical?
They claim Functionalists have a meta-narrative and totalising theory of society,
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What do Postmodernists maintain about rivial narratives?
Maintains that they should be considered for a full account of social life,
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What type of arguments does it present?


Stuctural arguments,

Card 3


Who created Functionalism and what does it study?


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Card 4


How does Functionalism see contemporary society?


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Card 5


What do they compare the operation of society with?


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