eftchap1 - Chapter One Structural/ Functionalism Theory...

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Chapter One Structural/ Functionalism Theory R alph and Alice have been married for about 20 years. Ralph feels that they have a good thing go- ing. He works in construction and is able to pro- vide well for his family. He was able to offer Alice thissenseof securitywhentheygotmarried.Heis also handy around the house, fixing things as they break or wear out and keeping the place looking nice. Alice is attractive and a good sexual part- ner. Rather than working outside the home, she has kept the house clean and meals pre- pared, and focused her time on the rearing of their four beautiful children. The kids have al- ways appreciated her help with schoolwork and her ability to attend and support their var- ious activities. They have been representative of the traditional, nuclear Western family. Recently, Alice has grown restless and less satisfied. She would like to get a part-time job in order to have some spending money that she could control. And she would like Ralph to spend more time talking with her instead of working on some project in the garage. Ralph feels that things are just fine the way they are—why do they have to change? But things are changing. With the children growing up and moving out, the family struc- ture is reverting back to that of a couple. Alice has more free time than she had in the past and would like to focus on some of her own interests. Ralph can see the point of using some of his salary to hire someone to make home repairs—but in order to give him more time to watch sports on TV, not to use it for the womanly tasks of shopping and talking about feelings! Ralph wants both of them to do what they are supposed to do: He works as the provider and she takes care of him. Alice feels that it makes more sense for them both to provide and nurture. History F unctional theory,as it is often called,is based on the “organic analogy.” This is the idea, de- veloped by early social philosophers such as Comte and Durkheim, that society is like the human body. Just as the body is made up of various parts that need to function together and properly for it to be healthy, so is society. Each part needs to be in a state of equilibrium, or balance. Just as the human body has evolved over time, so has society. Comte introduced “positivism”—the view that social science should be based on empirical observations— into social thought. He focused on terms that later became popular in functional theory— solidarity and consensus, which refer to the in- terconnectedness of social life and the source of its unity.Durkheim was also concerned with how social systems are integrated and hold themselves together (Kingsbury and Scanzoni 1993). The writings of social anthropologist Alfred
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eftchap1 - Chapter One Structural/ Functionalism Theory...

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