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Theorist

Topics: Sociology / Pages: 10 (2373 words) / Published: Mar 19th, 2013
Talcott Parsons

Functionalism sees social structure or the organization of society as more important than the individual wherein, individuals are born into society and become the prodeuct of all the social influences around them. Moreover, functionalism sees society as a system where there is a set of interconnected parts which together form a whole. There is a relationship between all the parts and agents of socialization and together they all contribute to the maintenance of society as a whole.

Talcott Parsons viewed society as a system. He understands the social system to be distinct entity; different from but interdependently with three other action systems: culture, personality and the behavioral organism. In addition, he makes explicit reference to Durkheim in his view that social systems are sui generic things in which values serve to maintain the patterned integrity of the system. He also argued that any social system has four basic functional prerequisites: adaptation, goal attainment, integration and pattern maintenance. These can be seen as problems that society must solve if it is to survive. The function of any part of the social system is understood as its contribution to meeting the functional prerequisites.

The behavioral organism is conceived as the adaptive subsystem wherein in order to survive, social systems must have degree of control over their environment. Food and shelter must be provided to meet the physical needs of members. The economy is the institution primarily concerned with this function. However, scarcity limits the total output possible from the economy. A society has limited resources and it cannot produce all goods and services that people wish to have. Therefore, the individual must make decisions in order to adapt from his environment. Because resources are always limited he needs to decide which one is more important from his basic needs. Thus, the government must set solutions addressing the problem where they choose what goods and services to produce, how should they be produced, who should get them and when they should be produced given the limited means of production.

Second, we attribute primacy of goal attainment to the personality of the individual. This refers to the need for all societies to set goals towards which social activity is directed. Procedures for establishing goals and deciding on priorities between goals are institutionalized in the form of political systems. Government also allocates resources to achieve them. In relation to our economy, because of scarcity, there is a need to allocate all economic resources available. The rapid growth of our population results to limited resources and both the individual and the government must solve these problems. Due to industrialization, agricultural lands are vanishing and there is insufficient food production. Therefore, the government’s role is to use alternatives regarding these problems and the individual must comply to attain this goal. For example, support services like DAR, DTI, DOLE, DA conducted training programs that benefits the farmers in the areas of community development, management and entrepreneurship, crop and livestock productions, etc. In return, the farmers who attend these trainings set by the departments are dedicated and motivated to work.

Thirdly, pattern maintenance is attributed to the cultural system wherein institutions that perform this function include the family, the educational system and religion. We all know that are parents shaped as an individual and as we grow they teach us from right and wrong. Proper behavior is also taught by teachers. Thus, the rules and regulation set by our parents and the school are important to the personality of the individual wherein if proper behavior or values is acquired by the individual then they will become a good citizen of a country. In Parson’s view that values of society are rooted in religion, the individual desire is limited because of the teachings of the church. For instance, if a person wants to do something bad, he/ she rethinks if his decision is the right thing to do and because he believe in the teachings or words of God.

Lastly, the integrative function is attributed to the social system. This is concerned with the coordination and mutual adjustments of the parts of the social system. Legal norms define and standardize relations between individuals and between institutions and so reduce the potential for conflict. Like what was said above, the rules and regulations set by the schools were followed and respected where these limits the conflict between the student and the school. In addition, the policies or laws that made by the government will bring peace among the individuals.

Reference:

Lement, Charles. Social Theory: The multicultural and Classic Readings. United States of America: Westview Press. 2004

Parsons, Talcott. (http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/functionalism. htm.)

Parsons, Talcott. (http://www.sociologyguide.com/socialaction/talcott- Parsons.php)

Frankfurt School

The member of the Frankfurt school tried to develop a theory of society that is based on Marxism and Hegelian philosophy, but which also utilized the insights of psychoanalysis, sociology existential philosophy and other disciplines. They used the basic Marxist concepts to analyze the social relations within capitalists’ economic systems. This approach yielded influential critiques of large corporations and monopolies, the role of psychology, the industrialization of culture and the decline of the individual within capitalist society.

The Work of the Frankfurt school was concerned with the essence of human freedom and the need to undermine forms of suppression that apparently dominates social life. In this sense, the school was concerned with uncovering the underlying ideological dimensions of capitalism wherein they try to put an end to dogmatic Marxism and more towards a more interpretative approach which recognizes that modernity had not fulfilled the promise outlined by the Enlightenment thinkers. Thus, they recognized that the drive towards a rational society was entangled human creativity in favor of the efficiency of the social system as a whole. Wherein, the needs of human beings were being ignored as part of an administered society in which mass consumer culture systematically integrated and controlled.

According to Adorno and Horkheimer, the mass society and mass culture is associated with culture industry wherein culture reinforces such authority in more subtle ways. The ideological power of the culture industry is a reflection of the fact that capitalist relations of production can never produce freedom, but constantly move towards further integration and domination. Wherein, the masses are an object of calculation: the costumer is not king, as the culture industry would like us to believe, not it’s subject but its object. Meaning, the transfer of profit motive was through the cultural form. Cultural industry also prioritizes profit at the expense of quality. For instance, cell phone now a day can be classified as a need not wants, that’s the reason why we are forced to buy cell phone but it is expensive; hence, we tend to buy a cell phone with a cheaper prize but has a low quality.

Moreover, the mass population is somehow brainwashed by the immediate offer of gratification that is made available to them through the culture industry can be explore in the particular context of music. Adorno was concerned that popular music was built on foundations of predictability. In the sense, musical production is not a creative act but a matter of technique and repetition within which the consumer positively seeks the predictability of the familiar. Pop music and films have worsened to that they never actually create new ideas but prefer instead to repeat old ones in a safe and predictable fashion. Where, most of the telenovelas or movies made by Filipinos always have the same story. Though it has different plot and setting, it is clear from the start how it will end and who will be rewarded, punished or forgotten. It is also the same in music where it is once listened by the ear the first notes of the song, they can already guess what is coming next and feel flattered when it does come.

Thus, popular music becomes produced in a uniform fashion, it is structured in more or less the same way but it has only very minor details of variation. In addition, the role of popular music is at least partly to do with helping people come to terms with the harshness of their own lives. It provides an escape from the real word but as such is no more than a reprieve from the continued labor of the capitalist system. It also offsets revolution, a catharsis which ultimately resigns the masses to their fate.

In our society, most of our younger generations are influenced by pop music wherein their attitudes are much affected in a bad manner. In such a way that they are becoming materialistic and hinders them to socialize with other children. The movies also had a huge effect to both children and adults, thus, they make the people believe the unbelievable and fantasize. Through this, the culture industry enables the people to be more involved in what is happening in our government or in the real world. However, these can be avoided if parents guide their children about the good and bad effects of the media and involve their children in activities that engage in socialization.

Reference:

Miles, Steven. Social Theory in the real world. London: Sage Publications. 2001

Frankfurt School. The New Encyclopedia Britannica,1992 Ed. (pages 939- 940)

Frankfurt School. (http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Frankfurt_School.aspx)

Ralf Dahrendorf

The structural functionalist tends to emphasize the orderliness and stability of society in which each element has a function and contributes to the maintenance of the total system and the social system is based on the agreement of its members. While Ralf Dahrendorf depicted society as constantly engaged in the process of change resulting from the social conflict and disagreement that spreads in the system. Focuses on disintegration and coercion, as some, dominate others in the struggle for power.

Dahrendorf focused on the role of authority in society where he viewed society to be held by enforced constraint where some positions are delegated power and authority over others. He also argued that society is composed of imperatively coordinated associations like for example, associations of people controlled by hierarchy of authority and power. Wherein, groups within a given association are defined according to their specific interest. These interest groups have the potential to turn into conflict groups and their actions can lead to changes in social structures.

He uses the term “imperatively coordinated associations” to describe associations in which those with authority roles dominate and control others. These associations are defined as basic social units which designate a specific organization of hierarchical roles can be of any size, and roles within them may tend to overlap. Rather than describe the structural composition of these groups, he sought to characterize the conflict around them. All roles within these associations can be described as either ruling or ruled. Each set of roles competes for power which is legitimated by the very structure of the group. When one subset succeeds in appropriating authority, it establishes new substructures of integration to help maintain its control.

He claims that authority positions in society are widely distributed and that it is possible to exercise authority in one setting but not in another. A corporation executive does not exercise his authority at a PTA meeting but does do so when he presides over the board of directors of the corporation. Another example, the congress and the senate has the authority to pass bills or laws but they cannot impose to the public as a law without the signature of the president of a country.

The sources of conflict in modern society form authority relations of domination and subordination that exist in the system. The reasons why authority always produces conflict are the following: first, the super ordinate is expected to control the sub ordinate. For example, in the past history, Spaniards came in the Philippines and they tend to control the people by means of Christianity. Because they have the authority, they impose new laws like paying higher taxes and bestow punishments. These cause the conflict in the system that’s why people revolt against the ruling class of the Spaniards.

Second, expectations are attached to status positions rather than the character of the individual. This involves the social stratification of and individual wherein the ones who have a higher position is more respected than the one in the lower position or rather it depends on the positions or job which is treated as superior or inferior to one another. This makes that professionals are more respected than skilled workers wherein professions like doctors, dentist etc. are paid with higher salaries than the construction workers or a dressmaker.

Third, authority relations specify the persons subject to control and the spheres within which control is permissible. Despite of voluntary relations or socialized relations, there is a duty to obey. This can be seen in companies ruled by the family where there is no exception to the rule. Even though you are the son or daughter of the president of the company, you cannot immediately have the higher position rather you start just like an ordinary employee. This is hardly seen in our political system now a days wherein the president can appoint one of his kin despite that there is a rule regarding this matter. In addition, most of the senatorial candidates are relatives of the seated officials of our country.

Lastly, authority that is perceived as legitimate threatens negative sanctions for non compliance. The function of the legal system is to support the exercise of legitimate authority. The judicial system has the authority to enforce sanctions or punishments to an official that committed a crime.

However, these can be avoided if an association has the coordination roles and tasks or duty must require effort coordination by group members wherein if there is no task then there is no coordination among the individuals but if the task is introduced or assigned then there is coordination among the members of the group.

Reference:

Dahrendorf, Ralph. (http://www.sociolgyguide.com/thinkers/ralph- Dahrendorf.php)

Dahrendorf, Ralph. (http://www.umsl.edu/~keelr/3210/3210 lectures /conflict theory.html)

Farganis, James. Readings in Social Theory: The Classic Tradition to Post Modernism. United States of America: McGraw Hill Companies Inc.1996

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