The aim of this session is to:Provide you with a briefintroduction to social theory,Namely the FunctionalistPerspective of society.
By the end of the session:•You should all have a basic understanding of the FunctionalistPerspective of how society works.•Be able to define key concepts in relation to the FunctionalistPerspective.•Critically evaluate the Functionalist perspective of the role ofsocial institutions in society.
Functionalism is one of the mainStructuralist PerspectivesStructuralism basically means thatFunctionalists believe thatHuman behaviour is shaped by thestructures or social institutionsof the society to which we are born.Social institutions, put quite simply, arethe different parts that makeup a society:Family-TheState(Government, Police, Military)-Economy-Education systems-Legal system-Religion and so forth.....which mouldour behaviours & actions by using bothformal & informal methods of socialcontrolThis theory is often criticised as it perceiveshuman beings as being merely ‘puppets ona string’
Make a copy of the table belowFormal control Informal ControlEducation System ReligionPeers Military Legal SystemFamily Mass Media WorkforceDecide whether each ofthe social institutions inthe bottom cell of the tableare methods of formal orinformal controlFor each, provide anexample of how theycontrol individualsSome may even sit in themiddleand be a bit of both
Functionalism continued;Because Functionalists believe that eachSocial institution works togetherharmoniously, to contribute to thesmooth running of society, theyAre also known as a ‘consensus’ theory.
An easy way to help you to visualise& remember this perspective is tothink about society in terms of ahuman body.
Functionalists argue that, like the human body, society has basic needsor Functional Pre-requisites,that must be met in order to ensure it remains healthy & survives.For instance, the body needs oxygen, food, water, a constant bloodsupply & a good diet to remain healthy, where asSociety needs Social solidarity, value consensus & acollective conscience to ensure that people do not pull in differentDirections & cause disorder or dysfunction.
ConsequentlyFunctionalists are interested inhow the family functions for the goodof Society & how it contributes to themaintenance of social order & solidarity,Which we will examine in more detailOver the next few weeks.
The basics of FunctionalismWhat can you recall from ourlast session in relation to theFunctionalist perspectiveOr theory of society?
Aim of this session•First quick concept match activity•Then half hour maximum completeorganic analogy diagrams.•Undertake reading & comprehensionQ’s•Test one another on concepts
Key Functionalist Concepts:Value Consensus StructuralismSocial Solidarity Social InstitutionsCollectiveConscienceOrganic AnalogyConsensus Informal social ControlFunctional Pre-requisitesFormal Social ControlIn pairs match the concept to the correct definition
Your Next Task Today is:ii) To create a large, visual representation of society, accordingto the Functionalist perspective. Let your imaginations role:You could do a 3D type representation-a textured one-a liftthe flap representation etc etc.................The brain The state-(Government-law-police-military)The voice box The EconomyThe lungs The FamilyThe heart Education SystemThe liver Social PolicyThe kidneys The Mass MediaThe intestines ReligionThe body itself NHS serviceThink about which organ of the body represents eachsocial institution in your opinion
Make a note of Your Final Tasksa) Think about how all the social institutions support one anotherand contribute to the maintenance of a value consensus-Social solidarity- Collective Conscience-and writea summary of these thoughts.B) Then think critically about what would happen tosociety if 2 of its’ FUNCTIONS (say; the family & thepolice force) were removed or began to malfunction(break-down).C) For Homework learn both the definition & the spellingof the key concepts we have looked at in relation toFunctionalism for a test on Monday