Essay on Functionalist Theory : The Functionalist Perspective

935 Words Sep 30th, 2015 4 Pages
The Functionalist Perspective
Sociological theories are different perspectives of how society is regarded. The functionalist theory looks at society from a macro perspective and has a number of key elements which will be outlined and evaluated in this essay.
Functionalist analysis was first introduced by Auguste Comte (1798-1857). Comte drew comparisons from human biology to describe how society functioned. It was concluded that as much as the human body’s organs all needed to be working efficiently for it to function correctly, so did the various parts of society. In the same way a biologist would examine various organs to explain how human life was maintained, a functionalist would examine the various social institutions of society and how they work together, to effectively maintain social order (Haralambos et al., 2013). Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) and Talcott Parsons (1902-1979) continued to develop functionalism and the concept of the value consensus was introduced. This notion comprises of society as a whole sharing the same norms (what is considered normal and acceptable behaviour) and values. These norms and values are learnt through socialisation and are passed on from social institutions such as the government, justice system, family, education and religion. Durkheim stated that these norms and values act as the collective conscience of society. Moreover, by living in social solidarity this creates social order which without, society would cease to function and…

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