Lecture #4-Functional Theories of Inequality
by OneClass4, Winter 2010
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Functional Theories of Inequality
-Durkheim is functionalist.
-Functionalist theory arose in the 19th century.
-This theory recognizes that society has become heterogeneous (different).
-They believe that the complexity of society isn’t a negative feature, and they argue that this increasing
difference in society can form new connections between people (new form of social solidarity).
-They think of society as a human body (biological analogy).
!Like a human body requires a healthy body, heart, liver, brain, etc… to function properly, society needs
interrelated institutions to function properly.
-Feudalism led to instability in social life.
-Social inequality is a functional part of society and keeps everything working the way that it should.
-Social institutions, even if they promote inequality, will continue to grow this way.
1) Ex ante reasoning (an event that comes before that is a functional requirement that must be
performed if any society is to continue)
!Religion in society – religion exists in society because it serves to integrate people.
-- Ex Ante because Religion comes first and it serves to integrate a community.
2) Post proof – to explain why something exists based on its existence through time.
!Social inequality serves as a purpose because it existed over time, which is proof that it had a
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