Functionalism and Marxism: Sociological Perspectives
Pages: 3 (672 words) /
Published: Oct 24th, 2012
In this essay I am going to compare and contrast Functionalism and Marxism. They are both sociological perspectives which have theories about society and the people that live within it. They attempt to explain how society influences people, and similarly how people influence society. However, the two perspectives are clearly different.
Functionalism is a macro system theory which sees society as a mega structure of linked social institutions such as school, family and the legal system. Each different institution is functional to ensure the whole of society is maintained. For example primary socialisation takes place within the home where children are taught basic life skills such as manners, morals and how to behave. The next socialisation is usually education, provided by the government, which enables children to learn skills and gain qualifications then go on to work and pay taxes to the government for the whole process to continue. This cycle shows society working together in an ordered stable way which results in productivity. One of Functionalism’s unique key concepts is the collective conscience brought up by Emile Durkheim, which means everyone agrees on social norms and values. This value consensus provides a base for society to work as one towards a common goal.
On the other hand Marxism is viewed as a conflict sociological theory. It was founded by Karl Marx who was a strong believer in communism. Just like functionalism, Marxism is a macro theory based on society as a whole and on a large scale. Marxists believe in ruling ideology. This means society is unequal and is split into different groups divided by class, wealth and social status rather than the consensus and conformity of the functionalist view. Functionalists believe that collective conscious comes from the socialisation we experience. Individuals learn what are society’s expectations, values and norms from interacting with