by definition, is the study of social behaviour or society, including its
origins, development, organisation, networks, and institutions. This means it’s
a social science which uses a variety of different methods to investigate and advance
a range of knowledge and understanding of social change, order and disorder.
Functionalism is a prospect invented by
Emile Durkheim. Functionalists see society as a whole body and everybody within
that society has their role to play in order to keep it alive. Durkheim conceptualized society
as being an
organism, and just like within an organism, all component, or in
this case person, plays their required role, but none of those roles will work
successfully without the other, and if one role is not fulfilled others must
stand forward and adapt to keep things in working order.
The functionalist views and
perspectives are most popular with American sociologist through the 1940’s and
1950’s who focused more on the behavioural side of the social order unlike
European functionalists who pay more attention to the inner workings of social
order. all parts of society depend on each other. Family, economic,
educational, religious, government and media are the core institutions which
are most important to understand this theory.
Just as the body relies on
the heart to keep other vital organs working functionalists believe that
society relies on the people to keep the system working. Functionalists see
family and education as the inner dependant components that build up society.
Functionalists’ argue that society would fail to work properly if the family
failed to function properly just as the body would stop working if the heart
failed to supply blood. Functionalists believe that this would occur because the family is
an institution in which primary socialisation happens. Primary
socialisation occurs when younger family member is taught the social norms
beliefs and values of their setting by a parent or in some cases other family
members. A value consensus is established when everybody shares the same values
within a society and as the family is the source of primary socialisation it
has a critical function in the social system and has more of a positive
function within the social body.
”Talcott Parsons argued socialisation,
social equilibrium, social order and functional perquisites were all vital for
a society to function properly.”
George Peter Murdock
four important functions the family must provide for the society to run
substantially are: sexual, reproductive, economic and
Functionalism doesn’t embolden
individuals to on go an active role in developing their social environment,
even if doing this might have beneficial factors for them. In contrast to this,
functionalism sees agitating for social change as undesirable due to the
various parts of society that will compensate in a relatively natural way for
the issues that possibly may occur.