Functional System Problems – AGIL (P)
Social systems have needs. In order to survive and continue, each social system or subsystem has four characteristics that must be met. These are functional needs of the system, “a complex of activities directed towards meeting a need or needs of the system.” (Ritzer, p. 240). The first two are necessary for survival and continued operation, with the last two being a means of regulation of the social system. These functional needs can be remembered by the acronym AGIL.
a. Adaptation (A). Each system exists in an environment, and must be able to adapt to this environment. In the process of adaptation, the environment is also affected and may be adapted to the society. This is the mobilization of resources so that the system can survive and that things can be done to meet goals of the system. In the family or household, adaptation could include obtaining economic resources -- earning an income to support the family. For larger social systems, the economy is the system which allows the system to survive, grow, and change. The major institutions in the economic sphere, such as agriculture, industry and services provided through the market are the means by which adaptation takes place. These serve the function of allowing the system to survive and provide the goods and services required for society to operate. As economists describe the economy, there are many equilibrating mechanisms within the economy that produce order. The market mechanism itself can be regarded as a system that has some tendencies in the direction of stable equilibria. Some of the government institutions relating to the economy also help serve this function. Note also how the economy as a system modifies the natural environment.
b. Goal Attainment (G). Each system has certain purposes associated with it. The goals of the system must be defined, means of attempting to achieve these goals must be laid out, and then these goals must...
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