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Functionalist Perspective Functions and Dysfunctions.

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Presentation on theme: "Functionalist Perspective Functions and Dysfunctions."— Presentation transcript:

1 Functionalist Perspective Functions and Dysfunctions

2 Deviance is not biological… Sociologists have long assumed that there is nothing physically or mentally wrong with most deviants – The legacy of Emile Durkheim Deviance is normal and beneficial to society because it contributes to social order Today’s Functionalists focus on society’s dysfunctions or problems and the causes of deviance

3 Durkheim: Functionalist Theory According to Durkheim, deviance can serve a number of functions for society 1.Helps enhance conformity- the deviant act and the punishment provides other citizens for an example of what constitutes a crime – Can see the boundary between right and wrong 2.Strengthens solidarity among law abiding members of society- collective outrage over deviants and a common enemy can unite them ▫EX: 9/11

4 Durkheim continued 3. Deviance provides a safety valve for discontented people – Prostitution may serve as a safety valve for marriage- no connection with the person 4. Deviance can induce social change – MLK and other civil rights leaders were jeered and imprisoned for their opposition to segregation but they moved the US towards a greater racial equality Limit to ED’s theory- if deviance is widespread it can threaten social order by wrecking interpersonal relationships and undermine trust

5 Merton: Strain Theory In 1930’s Merton drew on ED’s concepts to develop his theory called the anomie theory (strain theory) – Anomie means normalness and is a social condition in which norms are absent, weak, or in conflict Anomie may arise when there is an inconsistency in society between the cultural goals and the institutionalized (legitimate) means of achieving the goals

6 Strain Theory Example: Success According to Merton, the US culture puts too much emphasis on success as a valued goal – Parents, teachers, coaches, the media prod student to achieve the “American Dream” Success motivates people to work hard but at the same time people are not equally provided with the legitimate means for achieving success This produces a strain among people in the lower classes pressuring them to achieve success through innovation- using legitimate means of achieving success

7 5 responses to goal-means inconsistency 1.conformity- accepting both the cultural goal and the use of legitimate means 2.Innovation- accepting goals but rejecting use of socially accepted means of achieving it 3.Ritualism- people no longer set high success goals but continue to be diligent workers 4.Retreatism- withdrawal from society 5.rebellion- people reject and attempt to change both the goals and mean approved by society

8 Merton’s theory In short, it blames deviance on society’s failure to provide all people with legitimate means of achieving success Explains the high rates of robbery, theft and other property crimes among lower-class people Fails to explain embezzlement, tax fraud, and other white collar crimes b/c the people who commit those are typically not deprived of the legitimate means of success

9 Hirschi: Control Theory Travis Hirschi assumed that family, school, and other social institutions can greatly contribute to social order by controlling deviant tendencies in all of us If social control is lacking or weak, people will commit deviant acts

10 Hirschi’s Social bonds The best control mechanism against deviance is our bond to others: 1.Attachment to conventional people and institutions- Teenagers may show attachment by loving and respecting their parents, making friends with peers, liking school, etc. 2.Commitment to conformity- can be seen in the times and energy devoted to conventional activities- getting a job, education, etc.

11 Social Bonds continued 3. Involvement in conventional activities- people keep themselves so busy doing conventional things that they don’t have time to be deviant 4.Belief in the moral validity of social rules- the rules of conventional society should be obeys If society fails to strengthen the social bonds, deviance is likely to flourish

12 Braithwaite: Shaming Theory John Braithwaite looks at how society controls us through shaming 2 types of shaming ▫Disintegrative shamming- wrongdoer is punished in such a way as to be banished from conventional socity ▫Reintegrative shamming- make the wrongdoers feel guilty while showing them understanding, forgiveness, or even respect  Parents administer to children  “hating the sin but loving the sinner”

13 Shame, Shame… We know your name Reintegrative shaming is more common in communitarian societies such as Japan ▫Discourages further deviance Disintegrated shaming is more prevalent in less communitarian societies like the US ▫Encourages more deviance ▫Explains why crime rate is higher in US


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