Fall 2010
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Fall 2010. Structural-Functionalism. Greeks (Aristotle). Genealogy. Hobbes & Rousseau. Darwin. Comte. Wundt. Marx. Spencer. Pareto. Weber. Durkheim. Freud. Malinowski. Radcliffe-Brown. Parsons (1938). Merton. Parsons (1951). Conflict Theory Critical Theory. 1960s.

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Structural-Functionalism

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Fall 2010

Fall 2010

Structural-Functionalism


Genealogy

Greeks (Aristotle)

Genealogy

Hobbes & Rousseau

Darwin

Comte

Wundt

Marx

Spencer

Pareto

Weber

Durkheim

Freud

Malinowski

Radcliffe-Brown

Parsons(1938)

Merton

Parsons(1951)

Conflict Theory

Critical Theory

1960s


Definition i

Definition I

Functionalism: "mode of analysis concerned with interrelations between social phenomena in general, and, more particularly, with the consequences of given items for the larger structure or structures in which they are embedded"

(Coser1976, 146) [after Merton & Stinchcombe].


Definition ii

Definition II

Functionalism: a theory that explains the existence and persistence of social practicesin terms of the benefits these practices have for the system in which they are embedded

Example: Patriotism and patriotic symbols and rhetoric promote solidarity and willingness to sacrifice for society and the more of this you get in a society, the better off the society is.


Structural functionalism

Why…

  • …don’t pets blow up?

  • …do people ever stop having sex?

  • …is it hard to get back on a diet?

  • …do compliments improve behavior?

  • …do parties die when a few people leave?

  • …is there a “monthly cycle”?


Answer feedback

Answer: Feedback


Why do we stop eating

Why do we stop eating?

Eat

+

+

+

Time

Hunger

Satisfaction

-


Why does a party die

Why does a party die?

Interaction

+

+

Guests

Fun

+

+

Stay

Time

-


Logic

Logic

  • Society is a system.

  • Systems have parts…

  • …that are interrelated.

  • WHAT IS “INTERRELATED”?

    • Mutual dependence and Functional requisites

    • Feedback

      • Amplification

      • Attenuation


Functional requisites

Functional Requisites

  • Social systems need things like

    • Tools to coordinate behavior

    • Communication

    • Generational transmission

    • Techniques for generating solidarity

  • Recall Durkheim’s notion of “normal”


Feedback

Feedback


Feedback1

Feedback


Feedback2

Feedback


Feedback3

Feedback


Introducing a dysfunction

Introducing a “dysfunction”


Functionalist theories

Functionalist Theories

  • Explain practices in terms of system benefits

  • “Socially” rational vs. individually rational

  • Systems of functional requisites


Development

Development

  • Reaction to ethnocentrism and diffusionism*

    • Cultural context matters

    • Ethnographic data matters

  • Need to study societies as “wholes”

    * see Baertch. 2


Malinowski s needs

Malinowski’s “needs”

Level of Needs

Level of Organization

Time Scale

cultural

societies

years-generations

social

groups

months-years

biological

individual

days-months


Problems in early functionalism

Problems in Early Functionalism

  • Everything as functional

    • There are other reasons practices can survive

  • Naïve about cohesion as necessary

    • Unclear concept of system “survival” (or thriving)

    • How much? What kind?


Parsons contributions

Parsons’ Contributions

  • Toward a “unified theory of society”

  • Problem: Hobbes’ “problem of order”

  • Weber:


Genealogy1

Greeks (Aristotle)

Genealogy

Hobbes & Rousseau

Darwin

Comte

Wundt

Marx

Spencer

Pareto

Weber

Durkheim

Freud

Malinowski

Radcliffe-Brown

Parsons(1938)

Merton

Parsons(1951)

Conflict Theory

Critical Theory

1960s


1930s shift in american sociology

1930s Shift in American Sociology

  • From Chicago to Harvard

  • American Journal of Sociology to American Sociological Review

  • Crude Dichotomies

  • Fieldwork to abstract theorizing

  • People problems to systems problems


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