Which Theoretical Perspective Views Society as a System of Interrelated Parts that Work Together to Maintain Stability?
In sociology, there are three major theoretical perspectives: functionalism, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism. Functionalism is a macro-level perspective that views society as a system of interrelated parts that work together to maintain stability.
The functionalist perspective was developed by Herbert Spencer, Émile Durkheim, and Talcott Parsons. These theorists believed that society is a complex system of interrelated parts, such as the economy, the government, the family, and the education system. Each of these parts plays a role in maintaining the stability of society.
For example, the economy provides jobs and income, which allows people to meet their basic needs. The government provides laws and regulations that help keep order in society. The family provides love and support, which helps people grow and develop. And the education system provides knowledge and skills that help people succeed in life.
Functionalists believe that these parts of society are interdependent, meaning that they rely on each other to function effectively. For example, the economy needs a stable government to provide a legal framework for business transactions. And the family needs a strong education system to provide its members with the skills they need to succeed in life.
When all of the parts of society are working together, society is said to be in a state of equilibrium. However, when one part of society fails to function properly, it can lead to social instability. For example, if the economy experiences a recession, it can lead to job losses and social unrest.
The functionalist perspective is a useful tool for understanding how society works and how it maintains stability. However, it has also been criticized for being too simplistic and for ignoring the role of conflict in society.
Here are some of the key points of the functionalist perspective:
Society is a system of interrelated parts.
Each part of society plays a role in maintaining its stability.
Parts of society are interdependent.
When all of the parts of society are working together, society is said to be in a state of equilibrium.
When one part of society fails to function properly, it can lead to social instability.
Here are some of the limitations of the functionalist perspective:
It is too simplistic.
It ignores the role of conflict in society.
It can be used to justify the status quo.
Overall, the functionalist perspective is a valuable tool for understanding how society works. However, it is important to be aware of its limitations.
According to the functionalist perspective, there are four main functions that all societies must perform in order to survive:
Adaptation: Societies must adapt to their environment in order to meet the basic needs of their members.
Goal attainment: Societies must have a way of setting and achieving goals.
Integration: Societies must have a way of coordinating the activities of their members.
Latency: Societies must have a way of transmitting their culture from one generation to the next.
The functionalist perspective has been criticized for being too simplistic and for ignoring the role of conflict in society. However, it remains one of the most influential theoretical perspectives in sociology, and it provides a useful framework for understanding the complex workings of society.
Here are some of the key concepts of functionalism:
Social institutions: Social institutions are the patterned ways of behaving and interacting that are essential for the smooth functioning of society. Examples of social institutions include the family, the government, the economy, and the education system.
Social norms: Social norms are the unwritten rules that govern how people behave in society. Social norms help to maintain social order by providing people with guidelines for how to interact with each other.
Social cohesion: Social cohesion is the degree to which members of a society share common values and beliefs. Social cohesion is important for maintaining social stability, as it helps to create a sense of unity and belonging among the members of a society.
The functionalist perspective has been used to explain a wide range of social phenomena, including:
The rise and fall of social institutions
The development of social norms
The causes of social conflict
The process of social change
Do you want to learn more about the functionalist perspective?
Read the book "The Structure of Social Action" by Talcott Parsons.
Take a sociology class that covers the functionalist perspective.
Visit the website of the American Sociological Association to learn more about sociological theories.