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Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the functionalist approach to society

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Introduction

´╗┐Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the functionalist approach to society. Functionalism is a macro, structuralist theory. This means they see human behaviour being shaped as an influence of social forces. It is also seen consensus theory, as functionalists? argue that, individuals are socialised into a shared value to ensure conformity and social order. However, this functionalists approach is criticised by action theorists, as they argue that individuals create society through their interactions. Unlike other functionalists, Parsons argues that individuals are integrated through socialisation and social order. He sees some similarities between society and a biological organism i.e. body parts are inter-related, so is society, as different institutions assist in socialisation. However, over socialization, as Durkheim argues, could be a motive to suicide as individual tends to put others before themselves. One of the main objectives of functionalism is to find out, how social order is possible. ...read more.

Middle

allocate resources to achieve them, I- standing for integration, which means that all parts of the system must be integrated together to pursue shared goals and the L, refers to Latency, the process that maintains society overtime). Parsons identifies that there are two type?s society, the traditional and the modern. Arguing that these different societies are governed by its own patterns of norms i.e. statuses of individuals in the traditional society are ascribed from birth and they are to put groups interest first before theirs. However, in the modern society, individuals have to pursue their self interest and achieve their statuses through efforts made towards education. Another is the idea of Particularism and Universalism i.e. in the modern society, norms emphasise that everyone should be treated the same. However, in the traditional society, norms emphasise that people are to be treated differently. ...read more.

Conclusion

He argues that it cannot be necessarily proven as in a modern, complex society; some parts have functional autonomy from other parts. Lastly, Merton disagrees with Parsons Assumption that social system performs a positive function for society as a whole i.e. he argues that some groups may see primary socialisation as functional and the others, dysfunctional. In conclusion, functionalists approach to society is meta-narrative. They see society as a whole and a place where all parts of the social system are inter-related. However, post-modernists argue against this. This is because they see society as complex and increasingly fragmented. Another criticism to functionalists approach to society is from a perspective of Action theorists, they argue that society isn?t structural. They state that individuals create society by their interactions. Wrong, an Action theorist criticises functionalism for having an over socialised and deterministic view on individuals in society. He argues that individuals have free will and aren?t mere puppets whose strings are pulled by the social system. ...read more.

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