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Functionalist Theories of Societal Change

Functionalist Theories of Societal Change - B Evolutionary...

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Functionalist Theories of Societal Change Functionalist theories tend to assume that as societies develop, they become ever more complex and interdependent (Appelbaum and Chambliss, 1997:420). Herbert Spencer referred to it as a change from "incoherent homogeneity to coherent heterogeneity ." A. Differentiation What distinguished premodern from modern societies is differentiation (Appelbaum and Chambliss, 1997:420). Differentiation is the development of increasing societal complexity through the creation of specialized roles and institutions . Premodern society was characterized by people acquiring a broad range of skills that enable them to act relatively relatively independent of one another. Modern society, on the other hand, requires people to master a narrow range of skills and act interdependently.
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Unformatted text preview: B. Evolutionary Theories Early functionalist theories argued that all societies are gradually moving in a single direction . They are becoming more complex and, according to the early functionalist, are becoming more adaptable to their external environments (Appelbaum and Chambliss, 1997:421). There is a bit of ethnocentrism here. It is assumed that all change is "progress." The Europeans, for example, saw their societies as more evolved that those they conquered. The Europeans concept of self allowed then to see their involvement in the new world as necessary to help the "primitive and backward" societies move toward a more desirable (European) style of life....
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