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Analyzing Social Change Through Functionalism, Conflict Theory, And Punctuated Equilibrium

1372 words - 5 pages

Albert Einstein said it best, “The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them” - Albert Einstein(58 Quotes). Social change is an opportunity for positive growth in today’s world, however it may sometimes take a tragedy to get there. Many big events in history such as The French Revolution and the Civil Rights Movement have caused social change, but our world is stronger because of those events. It takes leadership and a desire for growth to make a positive change in today’s society. Many philosophers have theorized social change through functionalism, conflict theory, and punctuated equilibrium.
In the early twentieth century, Emile Durkheim along with the help of Talcott Parsons established the basis of the functionalist theory; known as the oldest yet still prominent theoretical perspective in sociology. “Functionalism can be summed up with one simple premise "the world is a system of interrelated parts, and each part makes a necessary contribution to the vitality of the system”(Functionalist Perspective of Sociology). Functionalists strive to explain the various parts of a society and their relationship through the organic analogy. The organic analogy refers to society as the organs of a living organism. These organs must be able to survive and function through a certain system much like that of a society. The functionalist view looks at society altogether as well as its interrelated parts and how they maintain the whole (Anthropological Theories).
Criticism of functionalism began in the ‘1970s’. “Functional theory also has been criticized for its disregard of the historical process and for its presupposition that societies are in a state of equilibrium” (qtd. in The University of Alabama). Functionalism generally has a positive connotation, however some theorists argue that the complexity of the process of interaction has not been sufficiently expained(Functionalism). Durkheim claims that society can be compared with the objective world. For example, if one can examine a snake and observe its changes, then one can do the same to society. While this is a strong point, it is also a weakness with this theory. The main focal point of many criticisms of functionalism involve targeting its rationalization of the evils and inequality of society(Functionalism). Functionalism has left a lasting legacy. “Functional analysis gave value to social institutions by considering them not as mere custom [as proposed by American ethnologists), but as active and integrated parts of a social system” (qtd. in Anthropological Theories). Functionalism is a way to assess society as a whole while considering its customs and interrelationships, therefore analyzing society’s changes and revealing its different functions(Functionalist Perspective of Sociology).
An alternative to functionalism, conflict theory views society and its changes through the lens of class struggle. The conflict theory is most...

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