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Compare and Contrast Functionalism and Marxism as Models for the Way Society Operates

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Compare and Contrast Functionalism and Marxism as Models for the Way Society Operates Sociologists approach the study of society in different ways. Two concepts of society are functionalism and Marxism. Functionalists believe that different parts of society work together to keep the society running whereas Marxists believe societies are unequal and unfair. Both concepts differ in their views of how society operates for instance a Marxist would claim that there are only 2 classes and it is very hard to progress up a class whereas a functionalist would disagree and claim the harder you work, the more you achieve and the better your social position. Functionalists believe society works like a human body for instance every part of society works to keep it going just like organs in a body and that the human body grows and develops as does society. ...read more.


A Marxist strongly disagrees with this view and sees society as having only two classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Marxism states that the bourgeoisie control the jobs and in this society someone who has talent to be successful could end up a failure because of their social situation. Functionalism states that society is a group of people who share values, this value consensus is what makes the system work. Values exist as part of society rather than individuals and society needs us to be socialised into the values in order to work. On the other hand the Marxists believe the dominant values are those of the bourgeoisie, their values include 'work hard' and 'accept your place in society' and that rich people have worked hard in order to earn their money. ...read more.


For example society's institutions adapt to changing circumstances e.g education last longer these days because generally you need to be more skilled in working life these days. Marxists believe change in society is caused by revolution and conflict, where the lower class rise up against the higher class and change society in some way. Whereas functionalists believe all societies are based around values, Marxists feel societies are based around conflict. To conclude, Marxism and functionalism view society in very different ways, both have been criticised for ignoring a individual's perspective and choices. Both concepts think that society shapes the individual rather than the individual shapes societies. Society has changed and become more complicated so that Marxism and functionalism do not apply as much today as before. Both perspectives provide useful views on society but are not always truthful to real life. ...read more.

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