September 25, 2013 – SOC3310 – Contemporary Theory
Structural Functionalism and the Problem of Order
- emergence of modern society
o how do you create a society, bring together a functioning society? What do you
need for that?
- individual: self-interest
- Hobbes: “war of all against all”
- Legitimate limiting of self-interest is to the benefit of individuals in society
- How to prevent it = orderly
o When we limit, we create an orderly society
- Hobbes: coercion
o The foundation of society is coercion, discourse
- Parsons: consensus
o Other people say the foundation of society is consensus
o Consensus over values of human being
- One of the most misunderstood sociologists of all time – Hobbes
o Attacked his ideas because he did not understand what he was talking about. His
ideas were the start of modern society.
- society – organism
- the purpose of life - organic life: survival, reproduction
- in order to stay alive and produce…
o functions: nourishment, defence adaptation…
o certain organs that these perform functions
o in all mammals – basic instruction is the same – the differences are on the outside
– example cars – they all do the same thing but look differently. Evolution
evolved all of us. We all have a heart, a stomach, a set of lungs, etc.
- society: institutions = orderly individual behaviour
o we are told what to do – we are not born with norms and rules.
- how to order human behaviour?
- Coercion: driving, taxes….
o The order of society requires this. There are rules. You have to pay your taxes.
You don’t want to fill out consensus paper? Too bad. You have to.
o That’s the idea of consensus.
- Reflects: social contract: rational agreed-upon greater good
o Coercion, reflects, values - 3 main traditions in history of sociologists
- Values: foundational to ordering
o Consensus over values
Social Existence = orderly performance of social function = solving functional problems
(Parsons students came up with “LIGA”)
- Social order = repetition
- latency (pattern maintenance)
- maintain and reinforce: values = pattern variables September 25, 2013 – SOC3310 – Contemporary Theory
o what does that mean to maintain variables? Keep people committed to those
values. That’s the heart of social order. That’s why it is listed first. It brings all
these people together. (** He will tell us the values coming up.)
o why is the first one the most important? Based on the fundamental values for why
the principles are distributed justice.
- continuous commitment to these values
- integration (harmony between individuals)
- settling disputes: rights and obligations = legal system >>> criminal justice
o individuals have different interests.
o The assumption is that we are under the condition of scarcity – there is not
enough to go around which causes competition and/or conflict.
o You want the dispute to be solved just. That’s why we have a legal system to take
care of it.
- allocating rewards = stratification >>> distributive justice
o all of the LIGA must be done by all of these institutions. You have to maintain
patterns, create harmony, etc. to keep the university of Guelph running.
o For allocating rewards, you need stratification.
o Equal distribution of rewards – do things we don’t want to do – look at doctors –
we pay them money because they sacrificed so many years off their life to get to
where they are.
o Does not mean equal PAY for everyone.
- goal attainment: organized mobilizing actors and resource = polity
o certain goals must be attained, followed.
o Everyone has their own roles
- adaptation: production/acquisition of facilities/resources for goal attainment = economy
o economy – the things we need to have to stay alive – the economy’s meaning –
the job market takes care of that
- the assumption of LIGA is that there is not enough to go around.
Foundation of Social Order = Institutional Order = Equilibrium: Latency
- latency: maintain and reinforce values
- conformity: congruity of behaviour and core values
- deviance: incongruity of behaviour and core values
- withdrawal of commitment to values
- core values = pattern variables
o affectivity/affectivity neutrality
o collective orientation/self orientation
Pattern Variables: Gemeinschaft (community-minded) = PRE-MODERN
- (1) affectivity
o feelings/emotions dominate interaction September 25, 2013 – SOC3310 – Contemporary Theory
relationships require loyalty, friendship, etc.
o interaction is inherently worthy
you do it because you like certain people
- (2) diffuseness
o various expectations from an interaction
o help, friendship, exchange…
o high level of obligation (others/words)
- (3) particularism
o importance given to interests’ of primary group
others don’t mean a whole lot.
o not interests of all
interests of the people that that particular person cares about
- (4) ascription
o importance attached to qualities of other
o not achievement: rank, age, seniority, gender…
achievement has no meaning – you cannot go upward in older societies –
example: women could not become a chief like males could in a native
society. Today in Modern Society – we can have ranks no matter who we
- (5) collective orientation
o for the larger interests of the society
- LIFE IN PRE-MODERN SOCIETY WAS BASED ON THESE CORE VALUES.
Pattern Variables: Gesellsch