With reference to sociological theories and concepts, assess the view that the main feature of society is consensus.

Authors Avatar by shazyo (student)

Shawda Aziz                Wednesday, 2 October 2013                

With reference to sociological theories and concepts, assess the view that the main feature of society is consensus.

This is a classic debate in sociology. In this essay I will analyze the theories and concepts that relate to this question.

The theory of functionalism assumes that a certain degree of order and stability is vital for the continued existence of social systems. Without it, society may be exposed to anomie and chaos. An example of this is the London riots, violence, theft and other criminal actions became uncontrolled due to the state of disorder and lawlessness. Consequently, social order is necessary for society to function in harmony. Value consensus is on agreement about values of members of society, referring to the norms and values, which provides a concrete foundation for collaboration, as common values create common goals.

Functionalists believe that social order exists in the concept of consensus to a large extent. They claim that without shared values and beliefs, achieving social order is impossible & social order is essential in the well-being of society. They believe that consensus creates the basic principle in society. If members have a shared set of values, they will have similar identities which therefore will reduce conflict and increase cooperation to order.  One of the mechanisms is socialisation; the social system can ensure its needs are met by teaching individuals to want to do what is required of them. Through the socialisation process, individuals commit to the systems norms and values so that society becomes part of their personality. Different agencies of socialization such as family, education & media all contribute to this process.

Join now!

Another mechanism is social control where positive sanctions reward conformity while negative ones punish crime and deviance. As individuals are integrated through socialization and social control into a shared value consensus system, their behaviour is orientated towards pursuing societies shared goals and meeting its needs. The behaviour of each individual will be predictable and stable and allows cooperation with its needs. This integration into the shared normative order allows an orderly society to be possible.

To summarize the theory of Functionalism, in its entirety it has an optimistic, noncritical view upon society and believes that it is held together ...

This is a preview of the whole essay