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Soc233 Oct 5

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University of Saskatchewan
SOC 233
Kara Somerville

SOC 233 October 5, 2011 Structural Functionalism Structural-Functional Paradigm  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? 2 Ideas: 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 (i.e., institutions). 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. Functionalist Theory  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 socializing agencies.  eg) Family, peer group, mass media. Note – Social inequality is functional, according to a Functionalist. There is a function for processes of socialization. Analogy  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. Bottom Line 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. Parsons  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 exist. 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,
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