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Sociology Lecture Notes - September 6, 2006

Sociology Lecture Notes - September 6, 2006 - Sociology...

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Sociology Lecture Notes September 6, 2006 The functionalist perspective is a view of society that focuses on the way various parts of society have functions, or positive effects, that maintain the stability of the whole. The perspective draws its original inspiration from the works of August Comte, Herbert Spencer and Emile Durkheim. Spencer compared societies to living organisms. Every organism has a structure, a set of interrelated components, such as head, limbs, heart, digestive system, etc. Each of these parts has a function – a positive consequence for the whole system. Spencer argued tat society had structures as well and each had a beneficial role to play in maintaining overall stability in society. Although most sociologists do not press the issue of society as an organism, we do retain the general idea of society as a system of interrelated parts. Functionalist theory assumes that under normal conditions all the elements in a society, such as schools, religion, the state, the family, etc… all “fit” together, with each element helping to maintain the stability of society.
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