Functionalist Approach Essay

645 Words3 Pages
Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the functionalist approach to society...(33 marks) Functionalism is a macro, consensus theory. They see human behaviour as being influenced by social forces, because it is a macro-scale approach is therefore seen as a strength as it allows functionalist sociologists to observe society, and its institutions, as a whole. Functionalists argue that, individuals are socialised into a shared value which is also known as a value consensus 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. Marxists may argue that these norms and beliefs are all in interest of the Bourgeoisie and they can prevent or make change by ideological manipulation or force. Functionalism is that it says that there are purposes for everyone and everything within society. For example, under a functionalist point of view crime even contributes to the function of entire society, without serving these purposes, the social structure would not function properly because police etc would not have jobs. One of the weaknesses of this view is that, however, is that some could arguably say that this means that even poverty serves a function in society. But Durkheim may have argued that poverty was more a product of "anomie" than actually serving a function. Another criticism of functionalism is the argument that it is somewhat "naive" in that it assumes that there is value consensus and that everyone in the structure holds the same norms and values; that we all essentially believe in and work for the same thing. Many theorists would argue that Western society is more individualistic. Parsons sees some similarities between society and a biological organism i.e. body parts are inter-related, so is society, as different institutions assist
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