Functionalist Theory Essay

865 words - 3 pages

Erika Schafer Assignment 1 Due 9/14/14
Structural FunctionalismThe functionalist theory focuses on society as a system of interrelated institutions and structures that are designed to address human needs. They view society as functioning best when there is agreement about the social values and norms. The functionalist theory asserts that our lives are guided by social structures, which are relatively stable patterns of social behavior in each society. Each social structure has social functions for the operation of society as a whole. Functionalists see social structure of society as more fundamental than the individuals themselves. Functionalism sees society as a skeleton; a set of interconnected parts which together structure an entirety.Structural Functionalism is considered to be the "framework for building theories". According to "the Real World" The origins of structural functionalism can be traced back to the roots of sociology. The functionalist theory is the oldest, and still most dominant, theory in sociology. Thomas Hobbes, a seventeen-century philosopher, viewed humans as "self interested beings who were in constant danger of 'the war of each against all'". Many pre-twentieth-century social thinkers were in conflict with the "Hobbesian" problem of social order.The problem of social order became principal in the minds of many social thinkers following political conflict beginning with the eighteenth century French Revolution. At the same time, the biological sciences were revealing the mysteries of bodily function and evolutionary ideas of survival that created controversy and inspired ideas from philosophers. Consequently, a number of social philosophers used the human body as a comparison to society. Philosophers came up with the idea of "Organic Analogy"; the idea that society, like the body, is a system of parts. Just like bodily health is measured by observing if all of its parts are working properly, society was also observed based on its functioning "parts".There were many social thinkers during this time period. Herbert Spencer, a British philosopher and sociologist, was born on April 27, 1820 in Derby, England. Herbert wrote many publications and had many ideas about society, which then led to his impact on psychology and sociology. According to Schultz and Schultz, the people of the United Stated accepted his writings because his views were compatible with the "American way" of life during the time period.Herbert Spencer believed societies are living organisms that grow and develop and only those who were able to adapt to the environment were able to survive. Those individuals could understand at some level what Herbert was implying in the phrase "survival of the...

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