Discuss the Strengths and Weaknesses of Functionalist Explanations as Applied to the Study of Contemporary Society. Support Your Response with Details and Examples from Studies Conducted in the Caribbean on Stratification.

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Question 1: Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of functionalist explanations as applied to the study of contemporary society. Support your response with details and examples from studies conducted in the Caribbean on stratification.

Functionalism is a consensus perspective that sees society as based on shared values into which members are socialized. It sees society as like an organism, each part performing functions to maintain the system as a whole. For example, religion, the education system and the family perform socialization functions. The functionalist theory though developed from the ideas of theorists such as Herbert Spencer and Emile Durkheim, can trace its origins as far back as the founding father of sociology, Auguste
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One of the weaknesses of this perspective, however, is that some could arguably assert that poverty serves a function in such a society. According to Melvin Tumin, Davis and Moore did not fully appreciate the importance of power in determining the unequal distribution of rewards. He went on to conclude that the differences in prestige and pay between different groups had been as a result of power rather than functional importance. For example in Trinidad and Tobago, the difference in salaries and wages between workers in the oil and cocoa industry may be a result of the relative bargaining power of the two groups of workers. Social stratification systems function to provide the elite with the political power necessary to procure the acceptance and dominance of an ideology which rationalizes the status quo.
One other strength of functionalism is the belief that society is held together by social consensus, or cohesion, in which members of the society agree upon, and work together to achieve, what is best for society as a whole. Talcott Parsons believe that order, stability and cooperation in society are based on value consensus; that is a general agreement by members of society concerning what is good and worthwhile. He further believes that the stratification system is derived from common values it follows from the

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