Asses The Contribution Of Functionalist Theory And

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Sociological theories are complex theoretical and methodological frameworks used to analyze and explain objects of social study. Each theory has its strengths and weaknesses. The focus of this essay will be on functionalism and its contributions to the understanding of society today. Functionalism goes back a long way in history with its views and theories on society, with the work of Spencer and Comte. Its theories were then taken on within the work of Emile Durkheim and a lot more recently by Talcott Parsons in America 1940-50's. From as far as functionalism has gone back, from about the 1830's onwards, it has been largely based on society being a system like the human body requiring a combination of social institutions in order to function. Its theorists seek to explain the existence of social institutions in accordance to the role they perform for society and focuses on society rather than the individual in it and hence it is a structural theory. Functionalist uses positivist methodology which is currently at decline as a modern research technique. Within society the functionalists outline what they call functional prerequisites, these are what society requires in order to exist. Some functionalists believe that these prerequisites are institutions such as family or social stratification. They are easily identified in every type of society even though they can vary. This view is held by sociologists such as Murdock (1949). However this does not show how much these prerequisites can differ between societies and satisfy a different need. Opposing this is the functionalist Marion Levy (1952) she offers a different definition of a social prerequisite. She believes that they are the factors that keep society in existence and without them society will no longer exist due to something like a world war where society is destroyed. In this definition the prerequisites
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