Assess the Usefulness of Functionalist Theory to an Understanding of Society as a Functional Unit. Essay

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Assess the usefulness of functionalist theory to an understanding of society as a functional unit. Functionalism is a consensus theory, it sees society as based on agreement among people about values, goals and rules in society, the job of the family is primary socialization. The family introduces norms and values to children, who carry these on to later years, where they are reinforced by religion and education. These norms and values allow people to move up the social hierarchy. For example, children are taught to conform by the family and education, which allows them to conform to the rules of wider society and become aware of what, is socially acceptable. Education also trains by teaching the skills needed for later life, for example punctuality, and interview skills. Unlike conflict structuralism, functionalists believe that society is based on merit, and those who work the hardest will be the ones to make it to the top, ensuring jobs are filled by those most capable, with the required skills. Those who don’t work, will stay at the bottom of the hierarchy, and carry out the more menial, but equally essential jobs. However not all functionalists see society exactly the same, as they have similar but different views towards it also functionalists are also externally criticised of their views of society as a functional unit. Talcott Parson one functionalist says that social change is the process of changing from one type of society to another is a gradual evolutionary process of increasing complexity and structural differ enation. Talcott Parson identifies two types of society- traditional and modern (both has its own typical pattern of norms). In traditional societies, a single institution- the kinship system performs many functions. For example it organises production and consumption, often provides political leadership by socialising its members to

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