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.
Functionalism and Marxism are both different sociological perspectives that state theories about society, these theories attempt to explain how society influences people and how people influence society. These two ideologies however are very different. Functionalists see society as based on value consensus, this means agreements. They believe society is held together by a shared culture. Sharing the same culture integrates individuals into society by giving them a sense of solidarity with others.
As stated in Giddens, sociologists who support this theory see individuals as not created by society but as the creators of society. Both the functional and conflict perspective, study society on a macro level. Unlike the micro study of society that looks to the individual, structural theory instead looks to society as a whole. Supporters of this theory view society as the creator of the individual, it is believed that the rules norms and values of society influence and govern the individuals. This essay will look at that two structural theories of functionalism and Marxists, it will compare and contrast both perspectives and identify similarities and differences in their views of on education family, as well as highlighting the strengths and a weaknesses in both perspectives.
Disharmony might arise when people felt the system was not fair, for example, when large bonuses are paid to bankers during a recession. Parsons and inequality Parsons developed Durkheim’s ideas and said that: In industrialised societies stratification, and therefore inequality, exists on the basis of which roles are agreed by the most important, and therefore the most functional for society. The agreement occurs because people are socialised into the shared norms and values for society, initially by the family, and subsequently by education and the other agents. The value consensus that results is what holds society together and it gives it social order.
P1: Explain the principal sociological perspectives Functionalism: This is a sociological approach that sees the institutions of society as working in synchronisation with each other, making specific and strong contributions to the smooth running of society. This approach can be best understood by linking society to the human body. Just as the body functions through the efficient interrelationship of major organs (such as the lungs, heart, liver and kidneys) and has mechanisms to deal with disease so the different institutions in society each have particular contributions to make. The family socialise you by teaching you how to behave and demonstrating values and norms such as saying please and thank you, learning to be patient and standing in a queue, being honest, truthful and respecting each other and also religion is a major aspect in determining how an individual behaves as religion can teach a person how to act and speak also. Peer groups are another influence in how a person behaves and this is because a peer group will mould you in a specific way on how to communicate with different people so for example a peer group might teach an individual to curse and swear whilst talking to friends as a joke but that individual wouldn’t communicate that way to their parents they may be more formal and polite in order to avoid trouble and disappointing them.
* Socialisation which included the responsibility of teaching children what was the acceptable way to behave in society. * And the economic function which meant that food, shelter and financial security had to be provided for family members through working and this would be by working for the bourgeoisies. Also the government provides education for the children of the family, which in turn pays taxes on which the state depends to keep itself running. That is, the family is dependent upon the school to help children grow up to have good jobs so that they can raise and support their own families. In the process, the children become law-abiding, taxpaying citizens, who in turn support the state.
These combine to form the infrastructure and the superstructure i.e. education, politics, norms and values all support the dominant system determined by economic factors” Haralambos, M & Holborn, M (2000) Marxism believed that there was class conflict between the bourgeoisies (upper class/owners of land, factories etc) and the Proletariat (the working class/middle class). The Marxism theory was also a macro sociological theory as it views society in the ‘bigger picture’. The functionalist theory is different in the way that it is a consensus theory; this means that everything in society functions as individual parts that as a whole create society. Functionalists look at society like the human body; both human parts and parts of society have certain needs that need to be met if they are to survive.
For example the nature vs nurture debate. Talcott parsons (1902-79) were a key functionalist thinker. He saw society as a system made up of interrelated institutions (like the human body) He thought the main role of an institution was to socialise individuals so they behaved in acceptable ways. He argued that socialisation is the key to understanding patterns of human behaviour. Our behaviour is controlled by the rules of society into which we are born; the result is we don’t have to be told that what we are doing is socially unacceptable- we already know and feel uncomfortable if we don’t conform to social norms.
Our values are what are important to us; these are what we have for example quality, honesty, education. On the other hand beliefs are what we make out of things. For example what we see, hear, read. The clearer you can be about your values and beliefs, the happier and more effective you will be. Norms, another importance in sociology are parts of behaviour.
Illness has social consequences as it is seen as deviant when sick it is the duty of the individual to get well and return to work as quickly as possible. Marxism: A system of economic, social and political philosophy based on ideas that view social changes in terms of economic factors. This approach was first developed by Karl max