Functionalism and the Roots of Sociology

Functionalism and the Roots of Sociology - Functionalism...

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Unformatted text preview: Functionalism and the Roots of Sociology Roots •The historical background to Sociology. What were the The circumstances surrounding the rise of Sociology in the 19th century? 19 •What was their starting point? In other words, what did What they perceive as the main problems facing the new industrial societies? industrial • What is the term Functionalists use to describe society’s basic needs? society’s •What institutions or ‘agencies,’ did the early What Sociologists identify as shouldering the biggest responsibility in meeting those needs? responsibility •What analogy do Functionalists use for human society? ‘Functional Requirements’ Functionalists prioritise the following, and look for Functionalists ‘socialising agencies’ (all of which ought to work in tandem, hence the term ‘interdependence of institutions’) to assert these values; institutions’) Social order/stability Value consensus Socialisation Conformity/consensus Functionalist Theorists Functionalist Functionalism has been out of fashion within Sociological circles since the 1960s. Can you recall why this perspective may of appeared inappropriate at this particular time? this Nevertheless, this theory provides many of the Nevertheless, ‘building blocks’ of the discipline, and its concerns (deviance, conformity, social group behaviours, class, gender etc) remain sociology’s main areas of enquiry. What might the American Sociologist Talcott Parsons say about the education system? What might Emile Durkheim a contemporary hot potato like ‘integration?’ Durkheim Murdock and the Nuclear Family Murdock ‘A people whose marriages and families are weak can people have no solid institutions.’ have Michael Novak Michael For Functionalists such as Murdock, the Nuclear For Family is a universal feature of human societies the world over. After carrying our case studies into 250 human societies for his anthropological work ‘Social Structure,’ he proposed that this family type is Structure,’ biologically ‘natural.’ Education Parsons argued that the Family acts as a ‘bridge’ Parsons between the individual and wider society. between Within the family we gain ‘ascribed’ status- we are Within judged in terms of our status as brother, sister, daughter etc… daughter Education provides Secondary socialisation – now Education we are judged on ‘achieved’ status. Our conduct is measured against universal values. Schools must operate on meritocratic principles. Schools For Parsons, Ability + Effort = Merit. For Education and ‘Role Allocation’ Education Schools must instil the value of achievement by Schools rewarding those who succeed, and the value of equality of opportunity, so that all who make the necessary commitments will succeed. necessary Hence, the best people will go on to fill the most Hence, important positions This represents achieved status in action. status Can you think of any reservations you might have with Parsons? you Emile Durkheim and Integration Emile For Durkheim, people are creatures whose desires are For unlimited. “The more one has, the more one wants.” This natural insatiability must be kept in check by external, social controls. A well-regulated society should impose controls well-regulated (social controls) on human desires. (social What state ensues when regulations on human What behaviour begin to break down? behaviour Functionalism as a Macro, or Structural-Sociology Structural-Sociology So, the individual is born into an ongoing social system – it So, ongoing existed before you were born. It exists independently of you, and determines our behaviour. The individual acts according to a ‘script’ laid down by society. The values, institutions and of society shape our actions and roles. What do you think this says about individual choice (‘agency’)? Are we puppets? “For a moment we see ourselves as puppets Are indeed. But then we grasp a decisive difference between the puppet theatre and our own drama. Unlike the puppets, we have the possibility of stopping in our movements, looking up and perceiving the machinery by which we have been moved. In this act lies the first step towards freedom.” act Peter Berger (1963) ...
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This note was uploaded on 11/23/2011 for the course SOC 111 taught by Professor Brown,r during the Winter '08 term at BYU.

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