Compare and Contrast the Conflict and Functionalist Perspectives

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This essay attempts to compare and contrast the functionalist and conflict perspectives and to indicate which of the two is more plausible. The essay will begin by giving a brief history of the theories and the main sociologists that influenced them. It will then give the differences and similarities between the two perspectives and draw a conclusion on which of the two is more plausible. (Schaefer, 2005, p. 13), argues that “Talcott Parson (1902-1979), a Harvard University sociologists, was a key figure in the development of functionalist theory. Parsons had been greatly influenced by the work of Emile Durkheim, Marx Weber, and other European sociologists. For over four decades, Parson dominated sociology in the United States with his advocacy of functionalism. He saw any society as a vast network of connected parts, each of which helps to maintain the system as a whole.” In the same view (Giddens, 2009, p. 23), argues that “functionalism holds that society is a complex system whose various parts work together to produce stability and solidarity. According to this approach, the discipline of sociology should investigate the relationship of parts of society to each other and to society as a whole.” For example the government provides education for the children of a family who are in turn tax payers on which the state depends to keep itself (Nuebeck.K.J and Glasberg.D.S, 2005). (Schaefer, 2005, p. 13), argues that “The functionalist approach holds that if an aspect of social life does not contribute to a societies stability or survival- if it does not serve some identifiably useful function or promote value consensus among members of a society- it will not be passed on from one generation to the next.” A function is a positive consequence that an element of society has for the maintenance of social systems (Wrights, 1959) and in the functionalist perspective two
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