Structural Functionalism And Structural Theory

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Structural functionalism is a macro level approach to study sociology (Browning, 2015). Structural functionalists believe social consensus is what holds society together; social consensus being a condition in which most members of the society agree on what would be good for everyone. Structural functionalists view society as a web of social structures, each structure being functional to fulfill it’s own needs, but dependent on all other structures for survival (Vago, 2012).
The Criminal Justice system is a working system and can be explained through the eyes of a structural functionalist. It is a system comprised of many interconnected structures each with their own functions, but without one another would cease to exist. Structural functionalist believes formal social control, or law, keeps society together and that the legal system creates boundaries and a system of right or wrong (Browning, 2015).
The criminal justice system is comprised of three parts: police, courts, and corrections. Each component has its own duties, responsibilities, and distinct purposes, but would fail if not effectively working with each other component. Police enforce what is right or wrong, courts provide means of checking whether laws reflect majority of society, and corrections maintain social solidarity through control of an offender (Vago, 2012). Structural functionalists view law, or the criminal justice system, as effectively controlling individuals’ behavior (Browning, 2015).
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