Functionalist Theory Essay

August 6, 2017 Anthropology

The functionalist theory is one that views the society as 1 that is societal system made up of interconnected constituents. Each of these constituents is of import and works together towards the accomplishment of a whole complete society. A common analogy back uping the functionalist theory is the human organic structure which has several organic structure variety meats which normally work together with jobs in one organ impacting the remainder of the organic structure. The major constituents within a society are imposts. traditions. norms and establishments such as households.

It is agreed among major functionalists that societal establishments make the indispensable constituents of society with regulations and ordinances being needed so as to form the society in an effectual mode. Functionalism within the subject of anthropology developed in the early twentieth century as a reaction to the extremes of the diffusionist and evolutionary theories developed within the nineteenth century ( Goldschmidt 1996 ) .

The alteration was as a consequence of a alteration in focal point from the more bad historical scrutiny of cultural traits and societal imposts as endurances to a more synchronous scrutiny of the assorted societal establishments bing within working societies. Functionalists were trying to increase socio-cultural scrutiny beyond the bounds of the evolutionary impression of societal history which viewed cultural traits and societal imposts as the residuary pieces of cultural history.

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The theory has anthropological roots based on the ideas and plants of Bronislaw Malinowski. who argued that societal establishments existed so as to run into the physiological demands of persons within a society. As such. societal stableness was achieved by guaranting the demands of the persons consisting the society were met with equal cognition of the feelings and motivations of these persons organizing a footing for understanding how the society functioned. He viewed civilization as the chief component that ensured the demands of the members of a society were met.

It is besides based on the plants of Alfred Radcliffe-Brown who argued that the basic divisions of anthropology were the assorted procedures of human life within a societal construction interlinked through interactions. Stability within society was hence achieved through societal patterns that would reiterate themselves and develop overtime back uping each other. As such. he theorized functional analysis as the effort to understand societal stableness by detecting how these societal patterns would suit together.

The functionalist theory is besides based on the ideas and plants of major societal rationalists and was foremost theorized by Auguste Comte following the Gallic revolution which resulted in societal unease. This led him to see the demand for societal coherence within society. This was followed by the plants of Emile Durkheim that advanced the theory of organic solidarity. whose major accent was on the cardinal map that ethical consensus played in guaranting societal order every bit good as constructing an equilibrium within society.

His chief concern was how certain societies were able to keep stableness and be able to last hence proposed that such societies are normally have subdivisions with the separate divisions being held reciprocally by common values and symbols. In add-on. Talcott Parsons argued that a societal system is normally one that is comprised of the actions of persons who are faced with a assortment of picks which in bend are influenced by several societal and physical factors.

He posited a societal system that had four types of action systems which included civilization. personality. organismal. and society. with each these four systems holding to fulfill four functional demands which were latency. version. integrating. and end attainment. His analysis involved analyzing the procedures and trade offs of societal constructions within and between the four system degrees ( Turner and Maryanski 1991 ) . Cardinal rules in the functionalist theory Functionalist analysis surveies the societal importance of phenomena.

It seeks to analyze the assorted maps that these phenomena serve within a society in order to continue the whole ( Jarvie. 1973 ) . Harmonizing to Malinowski. the major constructs included: • Understanding behaviours based on an individual’s motive in add-on to both rational and irrational behaviour ; • Acknowledging the interrelatedness of the assorted points which comprised a civilization organizing a system ; and • Acknowledging a peculiar point and placing its map within the modern-day operation of a civilization.

Radcliffe-Brown based his plants on those of Emile Durkheim who had posited that societal phenomena comprised a sphere of world that was independent of any biological or psychological facts. As such. societal phenomena have to be explained in footings of the other societal phenomena happening within the sphere ( Broce. 1973 ) . Radcliffe-Brown hence studied the fortunes under which the assorted societal constructions are upheld within society.

He developed an analogy between organic life and societal life in order to be able to explicate the thought of map hence puting accent on the part of phenomena to continuing societal order. Functional analysis has given value to societal establishments. This is because it considers them as integrated and active constituents of a societal system and non as simple imposts ( Langness. 1987 ) . Functionalism has besides contributed to the current thought that traditional uses have been formed by the necessity that human existences have to populate jointly in harmoniousness.

Its accent on thorough fieldwork has offered an in-depth survey of human societies. In add-on. the survey of functional interrelatedness between establishments and imposts has provided a model for roll uping information on how societies map. Major unfavorable judgments There have been several unfavorable judgments raised against the functionalist theory taking to its diminution. The functionalist theory has been criticized for its major ignorance towards historical procedure in add-on to its given that societies exists in an equilibrium province ( Goldschmidt. 1996 ) .

Interactionist theoreticians have criticized this theory due to its failure to gestate sufficiently the many-sided nature of single histrions and the methods of interaction within societies. Marxist theoreticians have criticized functionalism due to its conservatism and the fixed nature of scrutiny used that underlined the function of societal phenomena in the saving of the status-quo within society ( Holmwood. 2005 ) . Constructionist theoreticians have criticized functionalism due to the usage of classificatory theories that characterized phenomena based on their maps ( Turner and Maryanski. 1991 ) . Responses to Review

Comparative functionalism. developed by Walter Goldschmidt. efforts to react to the troubles that have developed as a consequence of Malinowski’s statement that a civilization can be comprehended on its ain with establishments been seen as merchandises of the assorted civilizations within which they were created. Comparative functionalism seeks to understand institutional differences between civilizations by analyzing phenomena within the different civilizations and the jobs experienced in these societies. This attack is worthwhile since it is cognizant of the catholicity of the maps to which societal establishments are a response to.

Problems are normally consistent from one civilization to another civilization. but the institutional solutions that will be needed will change from one civilization to another ( Holmwood. 2005 ) . As such. one begins with analysing the job so as to happen out how institutional processs provide solutions. Neo-functionalism is an effort to revise British structural-functionalism. Some neo-functionalists seek to analyse phenomena based on peculiar functional necessities. Other neo-functionalists focal point on affairs of societal integrating. societal development. and societal distinction.

Others examine how the assorted cultural procedures such as rites. values. and political orientations integrate with societal constructions. However. neo-functionalism topographic points small accent on how phenomena are able to run into system demands ( Turner and Maryanski. 1991 ) . This attack is worthwhile since it provides a span between human behaviour. which often involves cooperation. and natural choice. where single interaction involves competition more than cooperation. Mentions Broce. G. ( 1973 ) . History of Anthropology. Minneapolis: Burgess Printing Company. Goldschmidt. W. ( 1996 ) . Functionalism. In Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology. Vol 2.

David Levinson and Melvin Ember. explosive detection systems. New York: Henry Holt and Company. Holmwood. J. ( 2005 ) . Functionalism and its Critics. in Harrington. A. Modern Social Theory: An Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Jarvie. I. C. ( 1973 ) . Functionalism. Minneapolis: Burgess Printing Company. Kuper. A. ( 1996 ) . Anthropology and Anthropologists. London: Routledge. Langness. L. ( 1987 ) . The Study of Culture. Novato. California: Chandler & A ; Sharp Publishers. Inc. Turner. J. H. & A ; Maryanski. A. ( 1991 ) . Functionalism. In Borgatta. E. F. Encyclopedia of Sociology. Vol 2. New York: MacMillan Printing Company.


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