Structural Functionalism

Topics: Sociology, Social structure, Social stratification Pages: 3 (1031 words) Published: October 24, 2011
One of the basic tenets of sociology is the structural functional theory. It answers the basic question of how society is organized and how it is maintained. With its roots in the analogy between society and an organism, this social perspective identifies various parts of a social organization and determines how they work (Brinkerhoff, White, Ortega, & Weitz, 2007). Moreover, Calhoun and Gerteis (2007) states that the theory rests on an analogy that society is likened to a physical body with various parts. These parts or subsystems are necessary in order for the whole system to be properly functioning. To better understand the concept, it is important for sociologists to trace the functions of each subsystem (Calhoun & Gerteis, 2007). A common thing among sociologists is the quest to know how societies work. In the structural functional theory, three assumptions are behind the perspective. The concepts of stability, harmony, and evolution identify and distinguish this particular view. Each of these assumptions will be discussed with a goal of making it more understandable.

The first concept is stability. As defined, stability is the strength to stand or endure and or the quality or degree of being stable, in a state of equilibrium. For a society to be functioning at large, it is imperative to have a stable system of how things work. Any social pattern or structure must have this stability. This is actually a social need that has developed out of the existing subsystems working together towards a functioning structure. An example would be the need for a common form of communication. Society would be in jeopardy if an established form of communication is absent. This particular need leads to the creation of language. Although the development of language is a slow and evolutionary process, it has maintained the stability of a given society rendering peace and order as well as a stable way of how things are done. Accordingly, stability is the chief evaluative...
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