Functionalism applied to different topic areas in A-level Sociology….

One of the easiest ways to revise for the Paper 3 theory and methods paper (the theory and methods section) is to rely on what different theories say about the topic areas within Sociology, such as the family, education and crime and deviance.

This post is a summary with links of what Functionalists say about the man topic areas…

Functionalism: Main Ideas

(D= Durkheim, P = Parsons)…

  • (D) Society exists externally to the individual as a series of social facts – there is a social structure which exists independently from individuals. This social structure shapes the individual.
  • (D) Individuals need to be constrained.
    (D) Anomie is the fundamental problem of advanced industrial societies. Figuring out how to achieve solidarity based on change and difference is the big question of our times.
  • (P) We should analyse society as a system – look at each bit by looking at the contribution it makes to the whole
  • (P) Socialisation is important – individuals need to be regulated for the benefit of everyone. The integration and regulation of individuals is a good thing.
  • (P) Advanced Industrial society is better than primitive society – one of the main reasons social order is so important is so we don’t go backwards – (ties into the idea of progress

From Functionalist Theory and Methods.

Functionalism: Research Methods Implications

  • See Positivism
  • Macro-Level Research
  • Social Facts
  • Objectivity
  • Official Statistics
  • Correlations
  • Generaliseablity
  • Science

How they understand family life       

  • The four universal functions of the family
  • Functional fit theory
  • Primary socialisation
  • Stabilisation of adult personalities
  • Gender roles

From Functionalism and the Family.

How they understand education       

  • Secondary socialisation
  • Social Solidarity
  • Skills for working
  • Meritocracy
  • Role Allocation

From the Functionalist Perspective on Education.

How they understand crime and deviance   

  • The Inevitability of crime (society of saints)
  • Three positive Functions of Crime (integration, regulation and social changed)
  • Bonds of attachment theory (the more detached an individual, the more likely they are to turn to crime)
  • Subcultural Theory (when whole groups become detached, crime is more likely)

Mainly from the Functionalist Perspective on Crime and Deviance.

Key Studies and Examples you can use to illustrate Functionalism…           

  • Durkheim’s 1897 study of suicide, and the fact that contemporary official statistics today show the same patterns
  • The EU Referendum and the ‘Immigration Crisis’ (illustrate how we haven’t managed to figure out a way of achieving solidarity based on difference, rather than solidarity based on similarity)
  • The Case study of Musharef in Educating Yorkshire shows one school being functional in a similar way to Parson’s view of education
  • The way the Police and the media respond to high profile very serious crimes seems to reinforce social integration and
  • social regulation at a societal level – for example the social responses to September 11th and other terrorist attacks and to the London Riots.

Overall evaluations of Functionalism

  • Merton’s dysfunctionality critique
  • Deterministic
  • Rose Tinted
  • Teleological
  • Ethnocentric/ ideological

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.