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The Early Functionalists 1850-1920. Functionalism The analysis of society as a system composed of parts that affect each other and the system as a whole.

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Presentation on theme: "The Early Functionalists 1850-1920. Functionalism The analysis of society as a system composed of parts that affect each other and the system as a whole."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Early Functionalists

2 Functionalism The analysis of society as a system composed of parts that affect each other and the system as a whole Functions = purposes or consequences

3 Functionalism System – analogy of a living organism If the society is orderly the organism will be healthy. Universal Consensus (shared values) keeps the society orderly

4 Herbert Spencer ( ) 19 th -Century Liberal – believed in the freedom of business from government control Laissez-faire – “unseen hand” (Adam Smith)

5 Herbert Spencer ( ) The good of society would best be served if each man looked out for himself. No program for social change No program for maintaining social order

6 Herbert Spencer ( ) Two major contributions to sociology : Organic analogy Evolutionary view of history

7 Herbert Spencer ( ) Two major contributions to sociology : Organic analogy −Society is a system −Functions like a living body −Solidarity derives from the interdependence of the parts Evolutionary view of history −Darwin’s theory of natural selection applied to society

8 Herbert Spencer ( ) Social Darwinism (“survival of the fittest”)– People are poor because they cannot adapt to the social environment Rich men rise to the top because of natural talents (genetic superiority)

9 Herbert Spencer ( ) Opposed public education – because poor people would not make good use of it Opposed women’s suffrage – because women might not be sufficiently evolved to make political judgments

10 Herbert Spencer ( ) Emphasized a scientific approach – Social problems should be carefully studied, rather than letting “do-gooders” rush in to “fix” them. Spencer later reversed some of his most conservative ideas.

11 Vilfredo Pareto ( ) Emphasized a scientific, mathematical approach Viewed society as a system in equilibrium – a change in one part will lead to changes in other parts – final result: stability

12 Vilfredo Pareto ( ) What appears to be social change is really a “circulation of elites”: Lions – honor, duty, tradition, property, nationalism, and maintaining power by force Foxes – innovation, imagination, democratic sentiments, and maintaining power by manipulation

13 Emile Durkheim ( ) Established sociology as an academic field Showed its unique contribution as distinct from psychology Influence of Comte’s Positivism −emphasis on scientific method −concern about social order

14 Emile Durkheim ( ) Collective Conscience –shared values (similar to universal consensus) – produces social solidarity – derived from a society’s division of labor Disagreed with Spencer: Durkheim did not see solidarity as resulting spontaneously from individual actions, but as collectively maintained.

15 Emile Durkheim ( ) Two kinds of solidarity: Mechanical Organic

16 Emile Durkheim ( ) Two kinds of solidarity: Mechanical – characteristic of small- scale societies with a simple division of labor (men hunt, women forage) same taskssimilar positions similar viewssocial stability

17 Emile Durkheim ( ) Two kinds of solidarity: Organic –characteristic of large- scale modern societies with complex division of labor – derives from interdependence of roles (like a living organism)

18 Emile Durkheim ( ) Two kinds of solidarity: Organic – more difficult to maintain than mechanical solidarity – can result in anomie Anomie – the absence of norms – results from breakdown in social solidarity

19 Emile Durkheim ( ) Religion – expression of the collective conscience – traditional source of shared values – less influential in modern societies Future source of solidarity: scientific education

20 Emile Durkheim ( ) Research Method The Whole = more than the sum of its parts (Society is more than a collection of individuals.) Sociology is the study of social facts.

21 Emile Durkheim ( ) Social facts are THINGS. Criteria: External (to the individual mind) – objective Coercive (at least potentially)

22 Emile Durkheim ( ) Study of social facts requires: objectivity experiment comparison Comparative method: studying the same elements in different societies

23 Emile Durkheim ( ) Evolutionary view: societies develop from simple to complex (progressive differentiation)

24 Emile Durkheim ( ) Evolutionary view: societies develop from simple to complex (progressive differentiation) Unilinear process (straight line – going in one general direction)

25 Emile Durkheim ( ) Evolutionary view: societies develop from simple to complex (progressive differentiation)

26 Emile Durkheim ( ) Evolutionary view: societies develop from simple to complex (progressive differentiation)

27 Emile Durkheim ( ) Evolutionary view: societies develop from simple to complex (progressive differentiation)

28 Emile Durkheim ( ) Evolutionary view: societies develop from simple to complex (progressive differentiation)

29 Emile Durkheim ( ) Study of Suicide Showed difference between sociology and psychology Focused on rates of suicide between societies and sectors of societies, rather than on individual reasons

30 Emile Durkheim ( ) Study of Suicide Typology showed relationship of suicide to the individual’s connection to society: Altruistic suicide (for the group) Egoistic suicide (isolation) Anomic suicide (social/moral breakdown) Fatalistic suicide ( person blocked by society )

31 Emile Durkheim ( ) Summary: Functionalist −society as a system −evolutionary view −concerned about social order and anomie Wholistic: Whole = more than sum of parts

32 Emile Durkheim ( ) Summary: Scientific approach Research – objective and comparative Method focused on the study of social facts (“things” – external and coercive)


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