Functionalist theory Functionalist sociologists emphasize what maintains society, not what changes it. Although functionalists may at first appear to have little to say about social change, sociologist Talcott Parsons holds otherwise. Parsons (1902–1979), a leading functionalist, saw society in its natural state as being stable and balanced. That is, society naturally moves toward a state of homeostasis . To Parsons, significant social problems, such as union strikes, represent nothing but temporary rifts in the social order. According to his equilibrium theory , changes in one aspect of society require adjustments in other aspects. When these adjustments do not occur, equilibrium disappears, threatening social order. Parsons' equilibrium theory incorporates the evolutionary concept of continuing progress, but the predominant theme is stability and balance.
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