Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Functionalist explanations as applied to the study of contemporary Caribbean society. (25 marks)
Functionalism is a sociological theory that can be used in explaining society. The Functionalist theory views society as a system of independent and interrelated parts working together for the benefit of all. Functionalists view society from a macro perspective and the roles and functions of social institutions are emphasized within the wider society. On the other hand, while functionalism is appropriate for the study of large societies, it is not suitable for small, diverse societies like the Caribbean nations. It is also most effective in studying stable societies. While Functionalism views society as an interrelated system and highlights the roles of social institutions, it may not be appropriate for the studying small and unstable societies of the Caribbean.
Paragraph 1: Strength
* According to Emile Durkheim (1858- 1917), functionalism can be compared to the human body. The functionalist theory sees society as based on shared values, roles, rules, norms, beliefs and examines the various parts of society and how they are related to each other in order to form a complete system. He stated that in the same way the body consists of different interrelated organs that enable it to survive, so too does society consists of different components which depend upon each other for its survival. Social order must be maintained in order to have harmony and equilibrium.
* The Caribbean region has linked institutions that are interrelated and interdependent on each other, such as the family, the school, the church, and the government. They serve to work together to bring social order, equilibrium, harmony and value consensus within Caribbean society.
* Social order is rendered through social institutions.
* Example: The government, or state, provides education for the children of the family, which...