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F UNCTIONALISM Hoda Rafiee Seyed Shahab Miri February 14 th, 2012 (Bahman 25 th, 1390)

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Presentation on theme: "F UNCTIONALISM Hoda Rafiee Seyed Shahab Miri February 14 th, 2012 (Bahman 25 th, 1390)"— Presentation transcript:

1 F UNCTIONALISM Hoda Rafiee Seyed Shahab Miri February 14 th, 2012 (Bahman 25 th, 1390)

2 Sociology Sociology is the scientific study of society Sociology is a social science which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activities.

3 Theory a formal set of ideas that is intended to explain why sth happens or exists (Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, 8th edition) is a hypothesis which is supported by observational evidences.

4 Sociological Theory Comes in a variety of shapes and sizes… High-Level Theories Mid-Range Theories Low-Level Theories Focus on trying to explain how and why society is ordered Focus on trying to explain some general aspect of social behaviour Focus on trying to explain a specific aspect of social behaviour. Why do I always fall asleep in Psychology lessons? Why do girls achieve higher educational qualifications than boys? Functionalism Functionalism… Marxism… Interactionism… Feminism…

5 Functionalism… Society Is Like: A Human Body Characteristics of human body… Characteristics of society… Each part of the body works in harmony with all other parts Each part of society works in harmony with all other parts

6 Marxism… Society Is Like: A League Table Characteristics of league table… Characteristics of society… A league is characterised by competition between teams Society involves competition between social groups / classes

7 Society Is Like: A Play Characteristics of a play… Characteristics of society… A play has actors who play their individual roles Society consists of individual actors who play a variety of roles Interactionism …

8 Feminism … Society Is Like: A League Table Characteristics of league table… Characteristics of society… A league is characterised by competition between teams Society involves competition between men and women

9 Post-Modernism … Society Is Like: A Theme Park Characteristics of theme park… Characteristics of society… A theme park has numerous different rides Society is characterised by a multiplicity of choices (work, education, leisure, etc.)

10 Functionalism

11 Theorists

12 Functionalism is mainly associated with the work of two sociologists; Émile Durkheim & Talcott Parsons

13 other sociologist who worked on this topic as well; Herbert Spencer, Davis and Moore, Robert Merton and Almond and Powell.

14 Sociological theories always have to be understood in terms of the time in which they were developed

15 Emile Durkheim David Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist. He formally established the academic discipline and, with Karl Marx and Max Weber, is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science and father of sociology.

16 For Durkheim key features of 19 th century were: Industrialisation - the specialised division of labour

17 ..and the movement of people from country to city –urban life

18 Talcott Parsons Talcott Parsons was an American sociologist who served on the faculty of Harvard University from 1927 to 1973.

19 For Parsons two particular things struck him about life in 1950s USA The considerable affluence enjoyed by many

20 ..and the vast scale of urban society Downtown Los Angeles – early 1900s and 2010


22 Both sociologists developed a view which focuses on the idea that societies EVOLVE, grow or develop - a bit like living organisms

23 Societies are simply organised to start with, but over time they grow and become more complex

24 Like an organism, societies have certain needs These needs are called functional prerequisites

25 All societies have these needs – but they can achieve them in different ways

26 Systems are developed to meet the needs

27 An education system

28 A political system….... And so on

29 The systems and the society are held together because everyone shares the same values There is a shared culture

30 The shared culture is transmitted through socialisation into common norms and values

31 Society changes as systems or structures become more complex

32 In large scale industrial society, new ways have to be found to meet functional prerequisites

33 The need for specialised workers and professionals means the old system of aristocratic elites will not work

34 industrial society therefore becomes meritocratic Functional Necessity

35 ..anyone can make it – if they have talent

36 But things dont always work so smoothly

37 Robert Merton said industrial societies could be Dysfunctional

38 …if essential needs are not being met or if some groups cannot achieve the goals of the whole society

39 Not a bad theory But how could you criticise it?

40 It assumes value consensus Political discussions around the world Clockwise Turkey, UK, Ukraine

41 It generally has an inadequate view of power – everyone seems fairly equal Do we all start from the same position with equal power and resources?

42 It seems deterministic – as with Marxism, people still seem very much at the mercy of social structures

43 Over to you Like all theories it has strengths and weaknesses But one point worth remembering is that even sociologists who dont like functionalism much, usually recognise the importance of Durkheim – He believed in the idea of social structures.

44 Discussion Are you in favor or against functionalism? Why? Why not? How do you think this theory (functionalism) can be improved?

45 Summary Functionalists are very POSITIVE about society and always see the GOOD in everything. They even think that crime is good for society! - They look at society on a MACRO scale [this means that they look at society on a large scale]. They want to generalize their ideas to the whole of society. For example they look at what education does for society as a whole not just certain people in society. Functionalists also believe that society is based on CONSENSUS, this means agreement, i.e. we are all SOCIALISED [brought up] to agree on how to behave [known as NORMS] and what is right and wrong [known as VALUES]. Functionalists believe that each part of society has a FUNCTION [a job to do] to make sure that society runs smoothly and everything stays in harmony. For example education has a function to make sure people are educated to be good at the job they will get after school.

46 References Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, 8th edition iology/functionalism.asp Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics

47 Refrences Fun basics functionalism presentation Encyclopedia Britannica ultimate reference suite Pictures taken from various websites And some others that cannot be mentioned because of lack of the space




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