This is the sociological approach that sees the institutions of society as functioning in agreement among each other making a particular and obvious role to the smooth running of society.
This perspective can best be understood by likening society to the human body, the same way the human body functions through the efficient interrelationship of major organs like the lungs, heart, kidneys and the liver, it has mechanisms to deal with diseases so that different in society each have particular contributions to make. They work as one by using methods of social control to deal with deviant members or groups so that society functions efficiently.
Talcott Parsons played an important role in the development of functionalism as the sociological approach; he imagined society as a system made up of interrelated institutions that contributed to its ease of running and success. He thought the most important role of an institution was to socialise individuals and make sure they understand the fundamental values of their society and behave in suitable ways; this ensured that there was order in society.
This perspective can be criticised by claiming that it doesn’t approach areas of conflict that characterise modern societies and in principle could be found in every society, although functionalists emphasise that consensus and agreement are a perfect image of institutions having clear, positive functions and co-operating effectively for the good of everyone. Nonetheless, this does not look like it’s to reflect various peoples experience and understanding of the modern world where there are frequently obvious winners and losers and lots of non-conformists.
Functionalism is based on the idea that in all societies members share a number of essential principles and beliefs which value consensus underpins the socialisation process and the working of the main institutions.
Marxism also being a conflict model as well as a structuralist model. This perspective was originally developed by Karl Marx, he thought that individual behaviour was formed by society but believed that the economic system defined society and everyone’s place within it. He held the view that in the industrial society during his time, there were two social classes, one which is the bourgeoisie or the capitalists, the small but powerful group who owned the factories as well as the other places of employment. The proletariat, a much larger, less fortunate “financially”, poorer group of workers. His idea was that both these social class groups would always be in conflict, land and offices would want high profits whereas the employees will want higher wages which would eventually consume the profits. This is the reason sometimes Marxism is called the conflict model. He thought that this particular conflict would lead to revolution because there was an unbalanced relationship between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat and conflict was inherent in the economic system.
Marxists claim that the bourgeoisie also had power in other institutions and they nurture the society because they manage the mass media, the legal system and it’s their ideas that control the school curriculum. Through the socialisation process, the values and attitudes of the ruling class are passed on rather than the general value system of the functionalists. This is done effectively that the majority of the proletariat do not understand that they are being exploited and that they are helping the interests of the bourgeoisie rather than their own group, the lack of awareness by the proletariat is called false consciousness, this is the false consciousness of taking on the views and beliefs of the Bourgeoisie by the proletariat. Just the same as functionalists, Marxists also possess a structuralist perspective, they view family as contributing to an established social system and would consider the family as the servant of the capitalist