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Assess the contribution made by functionalists to sociology

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Introduction

"Assess the contribution of the Functionalist approach to the study of sociology" The Functionalists a structural perspective on the study of sociology, they examine society as a whole. A functionalist looks at and stresses cooperation and stability. Functionalists view society as a organism, they view it as a scientist would view the human body they wouldn't just look at the heart and lungs alone they look at everything as it all relates to each other, for example they say family and education work together and influence each other in society, they are intra-dependent on each other and one part breaks down so will everything else but they also think some parts are more important than others like in the human body the heart is the most important organ. Functionalists also think that society is structured and human behaviour and relationships are directed by structures that are limited by age, gender, law etc and that nobody has free will. Functionalists also believe in value consensus were all members of society should have the same values and this is necessary if you want stability in society. All functionalists also believe that certain parts of society have functional prerequisites; something that is essential for society to survive, but they don't all agree on what they are. ...read more.

Middle

Durkheim also put forward the idea of anomie where there are no norms in a society, if a society has anomie it means that the collective conscience has broken down, which will lead to society collapsing for Durkheim this is a bad situation as people need an agreement on what's right and wrong, but he thinks this very rarely occurs but usually caused by natural disasters I.E. people looting after hurricane Katrina, in the society before the disaster this was not the norm but the collective conscience had been broken down by the disaster and caused people to do things they wouldn't normally do. Durkheim like Comte believed sociology was science and that it was a social fact as they were looking at something that is measurable, when studying human behaviour Durkheim looked for the things you could measure for example in his suicide study he was concerned with what the person was thinking or what was going on in their mind he was concerned in the nature of society and what was happening in society to cause people to commit suicide. Talcott Parsons was another functionalist that looked into the theory of sociology, he believed that sociology was established as a discipline and agrees with Durkheim ...read more.

Conclusion

Merton also contributes the idea of manifest and latent functions; manifest being official functions E.G. the rain dance to make it rain at times of drought and latent functions or hidden functions E.G. the rain dance reinforces solidarity at a difficult time. Overall the functionalist view of sociology is to view it like a science and they use science as a way of looking at everything in society such as viewing society as a human body or by the methods they use when doing research, this can be good but also has its down sides as sociologists such as Durkheim don't look in to things that are going on in people heads which could be said to be the main reason things happen in society. They are too deterministic and don't look at the individual enough and over emphasis the functions that society has on the individual and that individuals are shaped by the society they are brought up in and have no free will. They also seem to not look at the dysfunctions of society and don't look at the conflict that things like religion can cause they focus mainly on the positives and seem to over look the negatives. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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