SOC 233 October 5, 2011
Society is a complex system whose parts work together.
Asserts that our lives are guided by social structures.
Consensus theory, NOT a conflict theory.
Q – How do social systems (societies) hold together?
1. How is order maintained in society?
2. What are the main sources of stability in society?
Note – Study social institutions in society; stability and maintenance.
Social institutions are the building blocks of society.
3 Main Arguments:
1. General interdependence of the system’s part.
2. Existence of a “normal” state of affairs, or state of equilibrium.
3. The way that all the parts of the system reorganize to bring itself back together.
2 Main Concepts:
1. Social Systems: Society is seen as an organized structure or framework of inter-related parts
2. Social Structure: The specific framework around which any society is based.
Note – As we move from different social structures, we change the way the social system works.
Society is a complex organism, made up of inter-related and mutually dependent parts
(structures) that work (function) together.
Like an organism, if society is to function smoothly, its parts must work together in harmony.
Dysfunction: When a part is not functional.
Note – Functionalism observes changes over time; NOT sudden changes.
Social Institution: Broad pattern of shared, stable, social relationships.
Involves large-scale, organised and behavioural patterns that persist over time.
Socialization: Values and beliefs are transmitted to individuals, and internalized, through a variety of
eg) Family, peer group, mass media.
Note – Social inequality is functional, according to a Functionalist. There is a function for processes of
Societies are analogous to living organisms (e.g., human bodies).
Each part of the human body is linked, in some way, to all other parts.
Interconnected and dependent on one another.
To Functionalist – Every person, every structure and every institution serves a function. When
one is not in sync with another, it throws the balance off.
1. All parts of society have a function or purpose.
2. All parts of society have certain needs.
Note – Every structure serves a function to fulfill certain needs.
Argued that the crucial feature of societies is homeostasis.
Homeostasis: Maintaining a stable state.
Functional Imperatives: Commands that have to be met if an institution, or a society, is to continue to
4 Functional Imperatives:
1. Adaptation: A system’s need to adapt to its environment, and adapt environment to meet the
needs of the system.
Ability of institutions to make gradual changes.
2. Goal Attainment: Goals must be set for human behaviour, and the means through which these
goals can be attained.
Each institution must have a set of goals,