With Most Theories, There Are Shortcomings Which Need To

1553 WordsMar 27, 20177 Pages
With most theories, there are shortcomings which need to be addressed to make sure that the theory is adequately representative of the topic which it is addressing. In the case of functionalism, it can be said that for all its shortcomings it is adequately supported by Action theory. It is the critiques of functionalism and how action theory has dealt with these critiques that will be discussed in this essay. Functionalism is the understanding that society should be understood as a series of interdependent parts but within the functional prerequisites that must be met. Action theory ‘views social life from the point of view of individual actors engaged in social processes’ (Josephides, 2017) and aims to deal with the deficiencies of…show more content…
Merton’s ideas are often compared to Parson’s as it was Parson’s ideas of action theory that broadened Merton’s own appreciation of the flaws of functionalism. “although much impressed by Parsons as a master-builder of sociological theory, I found myself departing from his mode of theorizing (as well as his mode of exposition)” (Calhou, 2003.) It is the idea of functionalism as outdated that is discussed by Robert Merton in his collection of essays Social theory and Social structures in 1949. This, being the most severe of the critiques of functionalism leads us to see how the next critique has also come about. “just as the same item may have multiple functions, so may the same function be diversely fulfilled by alternative items” (Merton 1948/1968, 87–88). Merton also critiques functionalism stating that it is an ahistorical practice that has completely ignored the ideas of colonialism, a topic that we will delve deeper into when assessing the ethnographies that were initially used to create the theory of functionalism. He also states that behaviour is not voluntary it is constrained by social structures of class and social institutions creating a further limiting factor. Merton believes that some societies that are non-literate also have high levels of integration showing how
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