Strucutral functionalism is a form of functional analysis. Functional analysis (or functionalism) is one of the major theoretical perspectives in sociology. In fact, many of the early giants of sociology, such as Spencer, Comte, and Durkheim were functionalists. Essentially, this perspective sees society as comprised of many parts that contribute in unique ways to the operation of the whole society.
The way I explain this to my class is to think of a clock. What makes a clock a clock? First, you have to have certain parts, such as hands, gears, springs, and a power source. But this is not enough. You have to put the parts together, of course. Still, however, you may not have a clock because you cannot put the parts together in any way
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Whereas American sociologists in the 1940s and 1950s generally ignored the conflict perspective in favor of the functionalist, the tumultuous 1960s saw American sociologists gain considerable interest in conflict theory. They also expanded Marx's idea that the key conflict in society was strictly economic. Today, conflict theorists find social conflict between any groups in which the potential for inequality exists: racial, gender, religious, political, economic, and so on. Conflict theorists note that unequal groups usually have conflicting values and agendas, causing them to compete against one another. This constant competition between groups forms the basis for the ever-changing nature of society. Critics of the conflict perspective point to its overly negative view of society. The theory ultimately attributes humanitarian efforts, altruism, democracy, civil rights, and other positive aspects of society to capitalistic designs to control the masses, not to inherent interests in preserving society and social order.
Definition of Conflict Theory
Conflict theory suggests that human behavior in social contexts results from conflicts between competing groups. Conflict theory originated with the work of Karl Marx in the mid-1800s. Marx understood human society in