The Structural Funtionalism Theory Essay

1908 words - 8 pages

The theory I chose to focus on is structural functionalism theory. The structural functionalism theory “explains the expectations of a society and the inability of the members of that society to stray away from those expectations. It focuses on the organization of a society and the relationship between the social units that make up that society. The theory provides general law and guidelines by which individuals are governed.” (ask.com, 2014) In Applerouth and Edles Classical and Contemporary Sociological Theory 2nd edition textbook, there are two theorists that focus on structural functionalism. These theorists are Talcott C. Parsons and Robert K. Merton.
Talcott Parsons’s was known as the greatest contributors, and specialist, of structural functionalism. Parsons’s theory was constructed from the AGIL system which is four functional imperatives. These imperatives include, “(1) The adaptive function, whereby a system adapts to its environment, (2) The goal-attainment function, i.e., how a system defines and achieves its goals, (3) The integrative function, or the regulation of the components of the system, (4) Latency, or pattern maintenance function, i.e., how motivation and the dimensions of culture that create and sustain motivation are stimulated.” (Mcgraw-hill.com) Once he developed this interchange system he began to focus on the evolution of societies.
Parsons believed that action within the society cannot be viewed within isolation, but must be “understood as a “process in time,” or as a system.” (Edles, 2012, p. 328) Parsons’s used a number of terms to explain his theory. One term he used was unit act, which he used to refer to “hypothetical actor in a hypothetical situation bounded by an array of parameters and conditions (required efforts, ends or goals, situation, norms.)” (Edles, 2012, p. 328) Parsons theorized action systems as a way to analyze society. Parsons believed that social action had four elements that distinguished it from other isolated and individual behavior, according to Appelrouth and Edles. These elements were that it is “oriented toward attainment of ends or goals, it takes place in situations, consisting of the physical and social objects to which the actor relates; it is normatively regulated (i.e., regulated by norms that guide the orientation of action); it involves expenditure of effort or energy.” (Edles, 2012, p. 328)
Parsons’ also believed that a person’s actions are systematized into three subsystems; social systems, personality systems, and cultural systems. The term social system “refers to the level of integrated interaction between two or more actors.” (Edles, 2012, p. 330) According to Parsons, a social system is made up of interconnected social roles, and each role was a part of a role-set. Role is defined as “a complementary , detailed sets of obligations for interaction.” (Edles, 2012, p. 330) Role-set is defined as “a complement of interdependent social relationships in which persons are...

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