Criticisms of Talcott Parsons' Structural Functionalism Talcott Parsons' sociological theory of structural functionalism was a dominant perspective of analyzing society until the 1960s. It was particularly very influensive in English speaking countries, especially in the United States of America, since the end of the Second World War. However, its significance began to be questioned, in the 1950s, as a result of increasing criticisms labeled at its discovered inadequacies. Criticisms arose in critical attack of Structural Functionalism's static and abstract focus on maintenance of social order, social stability/regulation and the structures within society and its lack of acknowledging social change and conflict. In other words it was criticized of its conservatism to sustain status quo. Thus, this paper will discuss the main reasons why Structural Functionalism was considered by critics as having a conservative bias in its analysis of society.
According to critics, one of their significant arguments against Parson's structural functionalism was its inability to approach historical situations effectively-ahistorical. Eisenstadt (Short, 1981:27) best explains this point; ...the charge was that in its explanation of concrete historical situations or phenomena, this school neglected past influence and processes in favor of a static or circular explanatory theory. Although structural functionalism to some extent deals with historical events, the argument was that its explanation was often speculative in the early stages and idealizations in the later phases of its elucidation of the evolution of society (Ritzer, 1996:116), from a primitive to a modern society. It was speculative in the sense it was theoretically imaginative, incomplete and that its conclusions were not based on solid facts that can be proven. Relatively, this school was criticized of portraying or representing society as perfect, regardless of what... [continues]
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