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Functionalist View of Society - Adv & Disadv

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Sociology Homework; Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the functionalist view of society.

Functionalism is seen as a macro scale approach to society as it doesn’t focus on individual aspects of it but looks at it as a whole. They associate society with a biological organism and Parsons identifies 3 similarities between these two. The first is the system organisms, both society and biological organisms are self-regulating but have parts which are all inter-related to help function as a whole (in the body; cells & organs, in society; institutions). The second similarity is headed system needs, and the last is functions as for example in the body each organ contributes to something different and within society each institution is present for a different purpose. This macro scale approach can be seen as a strength as it allows all sociologist from the functionalist perspective to observe society and the institutions within as a whole. The functionalists also see society as something positive and something that benefits everyone as they believe it focuses on the needs of the whole. An aspect of the functionalist theory is that they believe society is based on value consensus whereby all norms and values are agreed on by members of the society. The functionalists believe that many societies have in placed democracy as the norms and values have come to a state where everyone agrees with them. This can be seen as a strength as the Functionalists are seen to realise that democracy exists in many societies which contributes society to being something positive. Another strength of the functionalist view of society is that it actually recognises what system needs are present. Parsons has identified 4 basic needs which are also known as the AGIL schema and these different needs are met by a separate sub system. The first is adaptation whereby the members material needs…...

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