Functionalism from Classical to Contemporary Theory

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Functionalism is a social theory that has its foundations in the birth of the discipline called sociology (Adams & Sydie, 2002 p.05). Angste Comte, considered the founder of sociology, believed that sociological matters should be explained through scientific study. Functionalism is a method of study based primary on facts, objectively measured, essentially applying the scientific method to the study of society, social actions and interactions. Functionalism is interested in the relationships between systems within society. Functionalism is a top down theory that looks for grand scale explanations to society. As a sociological theory, Functionalism sees social structure or the organization of society as more important than the individual.…show more content…
Parsons pattern variables closely resemble the work by Durkheim on division of labor that makes individuals dependent upon one another because of the professionalization and specialization of the labor force. Durkheim was concerned about how the division of labor changed the way that people felt they were part of society. Durkheim used the terms organic and mechanical societies, these would also be analogous with Max Weber’s traditional and modern society. Parsons pattern variables were more complex that the concepts by Durkheim in an attempt to better explain social action between people or groups (Adams & Sydie, 2002 p.16). Parsons' student, Robert Merton a mid-range theorist contributed to the modernization of sociological functionalism by challenging the foundational hypotheses of Functionalism that all functions serve a purpose or they fade from society (Adams & Sydie, 2002 p.26). Merton claims that, in a differentiated modern society not all functions may be relevant to a system's needs or may they provide secondary functions. Merton’s manifest and latent functions indicate that a function that services a primary need in society could also provide a secondary service. This may be observed in viewing the intended function of marijuana prohibition. The intended or manifest function of marijuana prohibition is to prevent the use of a conscious altering substance; the latent function has been the overcrowding of the prisons in the

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