Robert Merton's Concept Of Manifest And Latent Functions In Society

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Register to read the introduction… According to Merton manifest functions are those that are intended and recognized. They are functions that people assume and expect to be fulfilled by the given institution. An obvious example would be if we took a look at education. The purpose of the education system is to provide its students with the knowledge and skills needed to progress in our society. That is what we expect from educational institutions. While this may be the primary function of education there are also the unforeseen functions that it provides. This refers to latent functions. …show more content…
Continuing with the topic of education some latent functions would be, providing mass entertainment for students, the forming of groups, and providing an environment that may result in human coupling. A student’s main purpose for going to school is to receive an education to further their lives but by doing so they are finding their way into different social groups and may end up finding a future spouse, none of which was ever intended by the educational system.
Another example of manifest and latent functions was used by Merton himself in his 1967 “Social Theory and Social Structure”. He discussed the functions of a rain dance. The manifest function of a rain dance is to produce rain. The people participating in this dance intend rain to be the outcome. What is unintended or the latent function of this rain dance is to reinforce the group identity by providing an opportunity for the members of this group to meet up and participate in this common

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