1.3B: The Functionalist Perspective
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- Apply the functionalist perspective to issues in the contemporary world
- In the functionalist perspective, societies are thought to function like organisms, with various social institutions working together like organs to maintain and reproduce societies.
- According to functionalist theories, institutions come about and persist because they play a function in society, promoting stability and integration.
- Functionalism has been criticized for its failure to account for social change and individual agency; some consider it conservatively biased.
- Functionalism has been criticized for attributing human-like needs to society.
- Emile Durkheim ‘s work is considered the foundation of functionalist theory in sociology.
- Merton observed that institutions could have both manifest and latent functions.
- functionalism: Structural functionalism, or simply functionalism, is a framework for building theory that sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability.
- manifest function: the element of a behavior that is conscious and deliberate
- social institutions: In the social sciences, institutions are the structures and mechanisms of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of a set of individuals within a given human collectivity. Institutions include the family, religion, peer group, economic systems, legal systems, penal systems, language, and the media.
- latent function: the element of a behavior that is not explicitly stated, recognized, or intended, and is thereby hidden
Criticism of Functionalism