Assess the Strengths and Weaknesses of the Functionalist Approach to Society.

1234 Words5 Pages
Functionalism is a macro, structuralist theory. This means they see human behaviour being shaped as an influence of social forces. It is also seen as a consensus theory, as functionalists’ argue that, individuals are socialised into a shared value to ensure conformity and social order. However, this functionalists approach is criticised by action theorists, as they argue that individuals create society through their interactions. Unlike other functionalists, Parsons argues that individuals are integrated through socialisation and social order. He sees some similarities between society and a biological organism i.e. body parts are inter-related, so is society, as different institutions assist in socialisation. However, over socialization, as Durkheim argues, could be a motive to suicide as the individual tends to put others before themselves. One of the main objectives of functionalism is to find out, how social order is possible. Parsons argues that social order is achieved through the existence of a shared culture, a central value system. This provides a framework that allows individuals to cooperate by laying down rules about how they should behave and defining the goals they should pursue. Social order is only possible so long as members of society agree to the norms and values. Parsons calls this agreement value consensus. One of the strengths of Functionalism is that it asserts that there are purposes for social conditions or facts. For example, under a functionalist point of view the newspaper deliverer and the sewer worker all contribute to the function of the entire unit without serving these purposes, the social structure would not function properly. However a weakness of this approach postmodernist would argue, that functionalism assumes that society is stable and orderly. As such this explanation of obtaining social order through a ''shared culture''
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