The Functional Perspective Essay

Submitted By sanna78611
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Pages: 4

Structuralists have deterministic theories which see people living in society as to the way it’s structured and controlled. For example functionalism views society as socialising people into shared values and norms that will control the way that they will behave within society. As a whole functionalism is seen as being a consensus theory that believes everything that occurs within society is good. It’s based on an agreement between people regarding values and goals within society that we have. So the primary role of family is primary socialisation which teaches the children the norms and values that will help them throughout their life by institutions such as education and law. Furthermore these norms and values which are socialised within people can support them to climb up the social hierarchy. An example linked to this could be that children are socialised to conform from their family and education therefore they are able to conform the rules of society and learn what is socially acceptable within society. Education can allow children to learn the skills which can help within their future such as good communication skills and motivation.
Functionalism disagrees with conflict structuralism because functionalists argue that society is based on merit so the people that work the most are the ones who will be the best. Therefore they have a strong chance of getting the jobs which are well-paid and good as they have the capability and skills needed for the job. So for the people who do not have the right skills and capability to work within these jobs will continue to remain at the bottom of the hierarchy and work within the unskilled jobs.
Emile Durkheim is behind several of the ideas within functionalism but it was Parsons that made functionalism into a systematic theory of society. In addition functionalism is seen as a macro structural theory that emphasizes about the needs of the social system overall. Parsons says that the main question sociology asks is how is social order possible? He argues that this is achieved by a central value system, which gives a structure of what is socially acceptable. Parsons says that a value consensus is only possible if members of society follow these norms and values.
For Parsons model of the social system we can use a building block where at the bottom there individual actions. Furthermore every action that is performed by individuals is controlled by particular norms and values that is given from status roles such as teachers. Status roles can be given by institutions such as the family being an institution and some institutions which can be linked are categorized within sub-systems such as banks. So these sub-systems are formed in order to create the social system overall. Parsons also recognises how essential every institution is within society therefore he says that society is analogous to a biological organism that has needs and if not met, the organism will die. Therefore parts of the organism function in order to meet these needs, and parts of the social system such as institutions function in order to meet the needs of society.
Functional prerequisites are what Parsons names the four basic needs of society. The first need is called adaptation where the social systems meet material needs with the economic sub-system. The second need is goal attainment where society must set goals and…