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Sociological theories based on consensus are more useful in understanding contemporary society based on conflict. Discuss Functionalism was discredited in the 1970s even thought Merton's work

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Sociological theories based on consensus are more useful in understanding contemporary society based on conflict. Discuss Functionalism was discredited in the 1970s even thought Merton's work is still popular in criminology. Functionalism became prominent in the 1950s USA, which was influenced by Durkheim, a nineteenth century social theorist. Functionalists examine how different parts of society relate together and how they influence each other and how they form a particular social structure. Functionalists argue that society has substitute social institutions such as the family, education and the media, which have particular functions that are interrelated. This is known as organic analogy. Functionalists see harmony and consensus as the norm in healthy societies and this expresses itself in social order. Functionalists argue that we cannot understand a "part" of society, unless we understand how they contribute to society as whole. Parsons argue that human action is shaped by social pressures and personal interest. He suggested that within social constraint people act voluntarily. ...read more.


Even though Merton never achieved the same status as parsons in the 1950s, he is seen as one of the main important functionalists. He disagreed with many of parsons ideas, he argued that not all institutions function to enable the smooth running of society. He claimed that institutions often have a degree of functional autonomy, for example the family functions relatively independently to the social system. Criticisms of functionalism includes the fact that it ignores conflict between group which Marxists and feminists emphasise on. Marxists also criticise functionalism as it has an inadequate conception of social change and Marxism is a revolutionary theory. It can be argued that functionalism, a consensus theory is not very useful in understanding contemporary society as it assumes that we all share a common set of values, norms and beliefs and we now live in a multicultural society. Marxists argue that conflict is the defining characteristic of capitalist societies, not consensus. Marxists believe that power is held by those who own and control the means of production. ...read more.


However work can still be seen as alienating in contemporary society such as working in a factory as the employee will have no creative freedom. In conclusion it can be argued that consensus theories such as functionalism has its limitations on being useful to understanding contemporary society. It can be argued that it over emphasise consensus and we now live in a multicultural society there may not be consensus as each culture may have its own set of values and norms. Functionalism also tends to only focus on the benefits of social institutions. For example it neglects the dysfunctions or harm institutions can have on individuals such as domestic violence in the family as the family is portrayed as being harmonious. Marxism can also have limitations in understanding contemporary society as even though Marx claims that the working class are oppressed and a revolution needs to take place there has not been one. However it can be argued that Marxism is more useful in understanding society today as work can still be seen as an alienating experience and personal gain is still encouraged. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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