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Theories - Essay Example

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Theories Author Institution Theories Functionalism According to Isajiw (2003), functionalism can be regarded as the oldest theoretical perspective in sociology, whose dominance in sociology has been there for many years. The theory is based on two concepts one of which entails using the analogy between the society and individual…
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Download file to see previous pages Based on this, therefore, no part of the system can work on isolation as all the parts need each other for the continuity of the whole. The major assumption in the theory is that all the parts summed up make the whole and no part can be regarded to be of more importance than the other. Functionalism asserts that the study of the social world can be equated to the study of the physical world. Moreover, there is an assumption in functionalism that the social world can be regarded as value-free as long as the values of those involved in its study do not interfere with the structure of the social system. Functionalism theorists also place an emphasis on the organic unity that must be there in society. According to functionalists, certain needs have to be met in order to enhance the existence of a social system. Functionalism holds that social systems strive to maintain equilibrium given that conflict may arise between the various parts of the society; in addition, the systems also try to return society to equilibrium if some external factors cause imbalance in the system (Isajiw, 2003). The theory of functionalism argues that, for social equilibrium to be achieved in the society, consensus has to be reached through the internalization the core norms and values of society. The lack of proper socialization and internalization of society norms, values, and beliefs leads to nonconformity, thus prompting the institution of control mechanisms, which either punishes those who do not conform or bring conformity in the society. These mechanisms of control may include sanctions through institutions such as mental hospitals, law enforcement agencies, and schools (Andersen & Taylor, 2007). As Kirby (2000) notes, another major assumption that takes center stage in functionalism entails the belief that, as a whole, society is more crucial than the sum of its parts. Based on this assumption, the theory assumes that the various parts that make up society can be regarded as institutions belonging to the society. Each of the parts is structured in such a way that it fulfils and meets the needs for which it is intended. The parts also rely on each other while fulfilling their functions in society. For instance, the state plays a role in the providing education to children who belong to a family. In return, the family pays taxes that the government uses for its own sustenance. The institution of the school is also depended upon by the family in order to educate children, and help them to rely on themselves in the future. The religious part plays the role of ensuring that society maintains morality and upholds desirable. Functionalists also hold that the behavior of an individual is shaped by society and culture in which he or she is brought up. A person internalizes the culture of his own society, which may be totally different from the culture of other societies. According to functionalism, the decisions people make can be predicted based on the position they hold in society, as well as the norms and values that guide their socialization. Therefore, functionalists emphasize how the society controls the behavior of individuals, as opposed to how a person can control over his or her behavior (Isajiw, 2003). According to Andersen & Taylor (2007), the theory of functionalism also holds the belief that every person and every phenomenon witnessed in the society serves a certain purpose. For instance, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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