Friday Night Lights: Structure Functional Theory

1735 words - 7 pages

Functionalism views society as the stability and assimilation of a range of forces that function within it. While society is a separate entity with a life of its own, there are individual elements contributing to that stability. Functionalism as a sociological theory emphasizes assimilation rather than the dissociation of society. Therefore, the society is seen as a whole that is compromised of parts which give one another their identity and their function. The part, whether that is education, such as a school, or sports, such as a football team, operates in relation to the other parts, and cannot be entirely understood in isolation from the other parts. All the parts are interrelated, and when there is a disturbance in any one of the parts, is when you can see the interdependence. But what is important about this theory is that “there will always be some reorganization and tendency to restore equilibrium” (Wallace and Wolf 17). Functionalist do not believe it’s crucial that the people involved in the society to be aware of this interconnectedness anymore than the brain and heart consciously realize that they work together as an organism.
In Friday Night Lights we see the theory of functionalism not only in the team, but the town and its dream of solidarity through winning the state championship. In a small town, such as Odessa, Texas, high school football helps to keep the town together by keeping it alive. On Friday nights, when the flood lights turn on inside the Permian stadium the strength of Odessa seems dependent on what will occur in that football stadium. Businesses shut down; families and community come together within the constraints of this stadium to cheer their team onto victory. Thus during football season, little more is talked about other than the team, the coaches, the plays. Football is what the cohesive unit that stabilizes and brings together this community of Odessa. The individuals in Odessa have “shared values or generally accepted standards of desirability” (Wallace and Wolf 18) regarding their feelings of high school football and the meaning of coming together as a town in support for the team. Hence the values that are placed on football, solidarity, and winning the theory of functionalism can be seen and applied in Friday Night Lights.
In order to live up to the reputation of the town and peers, the Permian Panthers and the coaches set goals so that they will have a winning season. The goal that is set is to win the state championship and nothing, including injury will change that goal. This occurs when Boobie Miles, the star running back, chooses to play in spite of a torn ALC, rather than yielding to the unimaginable pain that he is in. The team imposed a structure, which establishes the goals and values of the team, therefore reinforcing the team’s solidarity to winning the championship not only for them but for the town.
In spite of the team and coaches setting the goal, Boobie’s injury while playing...

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