Politics, Philosophy and Economics Notes > University Of Oxford Politics, Philosophy and Economics Notes > Sociological Theory Notes

Giddens Functionalism Notes

This is a sample of our (approximately) 5 page long Giddens Functionalism notes, which we sell as part of the Sociological Theory Notes collection, a First package written at University Of Oxford in 2014 that contains (approximately) 77 pages of notes across 21 different documents.

Learn more about our Sociological Theory Notes

The original file is a 'Word (Docx)' whilst this sample is a 'PDF' representation of said file. This means that the formatting here may have errors. The original document you'll receive on purchase should have more polished formatting.

Giddens Functionalism Revision

The following is a plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Sociological Theory Notes. This text version has had its formatting removed so pay attention to its contents alone rather than its presentation. The version you download will have its original formatting intact and so will be much prettier to look at.

Anthony Giddens - Studies in Social and Political Theory Chapter Two: Functionalism

Functionalism has its origins in a marriage between social sciences (esp. sociology) and biology (specifically evolutionary theory) After being exported to the USA, 'function' and 'structure' were conjoined to generate structuralfunctionalism

Merton: functionalism systematized
● Merton sought a codification of the variety of methods of functional analysis, and recognized the following deficiencies/clarifications required:
○ the meaning of the term function
■ social function refers to observable objective consequences, not to subjective dispositions (aims, motives etc)
● clearly there is a distinction between the two - outcomes and intentions don't always coincide
○ ideas that have to be rejected:
■ the assumption of functional unity, the implicit harmony of society (conservative)
■ the idea that all social practices have functions
■ the indispensability of social functions has to be questioned - is religion necessary to society, or are the functions that religion fulfils?
○ functionalism isn't inherently conservative
● Merton made these revisions:
○ functions are the observed consequences of practices/items which allow for the adaptation/adjustment of the system
■ dysfunction refers to phenomena that act against such adaptation and adjustment
○ functional analysis = assessment of a net balance of an aggregate of consequences
■ a practice may be functional in some respects and dysfunctional in others
○ manifest functions = objective consequences that contribute towards adjustment/adaptation that are intended and recognized by participants in the system
■ latent functions = not intended and recognized
○ analysis of the functional requirements of social systems should recognize that there is a variation of functional alternatives
■ possibilities of change are limited by structural constraints deriving from the interdependence of the elements of a social structure Nagel: a critical emendation
● Nagel recognizes the presence of functional notions in biology but not in other sciences
○ this is because the entities of biology (organisms) are self-regulating with respect to environmental changes
■ functionalism cannot apply to entities which lack self-regulating capabilities
● Why draw Merton's distinction between manifest and latent functions?
○ if subjective orientations are not a special variable, then the distinction is unnecessary, and if they are a systemic variable, then they are different items rather than different functions
○ if we treat subjective states as functional variables then we can recognize the difference

****************************End Of Sample*****************************

Buy the full version of these notes or essay plans and more in our Sociological Theory Notes.