A - continuation of the social system When functionalists...

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A. A System With Parts The parts of society, while performing different functions, work together to maintain the stability of the whole social system. In order to understand the idea of "social system ," it may be helpful to visualize a different kind of system. For example, biological organisms are systems . In fact, many sociologists use biological models to explain human society. The biological metaphor is successful in that it calls attention to how a social "organism" consists of various unique parts . Those parts, in turn, function together to support and maintain the whole system . B. What's the Purpose? Functionalists, like Emile Durkheim, Vilfredo Pareto, Talcott Parsons, and Robert Merton, are interested in how the parts of the social system contribute to the
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Unformatted text preview: continuation of the social system . When functionalists encounter the various aspects of society, they may ask "What is its purpose?" A primary purpose of all parts (institutions like police, newspapers, religion) is to encourage consensus. Merton (see Robertson, 1989:12) distinguishes between manifest functions, latent functions, and dysfunctions . 1. Manifest Functions Manifest functions refer to functions that are obvious. Examples: The manifest function of schools is to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. The manifest function of the military is to defend the nation. The manifest function of criminal justice is to keep the streets safe for a society's citizens....
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