Functionalism Essay

1668 Words Jun 26th, 2014 7 Pages INTRODUCTION Functionalism was a major paradigm shift in the history of American psychology. As an outgrowth of Darwin’s evolutionary theory, the functionalist approach focused on the examination of the function and purpose of mind and behavior. Rather than the structures of the mind, functionalism was interested in mental processes and their relation to behavior. Through his work at Harvard as a professor teaching psychology courses and his writings related to the philosophy of pragmatism and functionalism, William James became known as spokesman of this burgeoning approach to psychology. …show more content… FUNCTIONALISM Functionalism is the oldest, and still the dominant, theoretical perspective in sociology and many other social sciences. This perspective is built upon twin emphases: application of the scientific method to the objective social world and use of an analogy between the individual organism and society.
The emphasis on scientific method leads to the assertion that one can study the social world in the same ways as one studies the physical world. Thus, Functionalists see the social world as "objectively real," as observable with such techniques as social surveys and interviews. Furthermore, their positivistic view of social science assumes that study of the social world can be value-free, in that the investigator's values will not necessarily interfere with the disinterested search for social laws governing the behavior of social systems. Many of these ideas go back to Emile Durkheim (1858-1917), the great French sociologist whose writings form the basis for functionalist theory (see Durkheim 1915, 1964); Durkheim was himself one of the first sociologists to make use of scientific and statistical techniques in sociological research (1951).
The second emphasis, on the organic unity of society, leads functionalists to speculate about needs which must be met for a social system to exist, as well as the ways in which

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