The sociological theory of functionalism argues that societies, much like the human body, are made up of separate but interdependent parts (Taylor et al, 2000). Each part has a distinct but important function in maintaining the whole. If something should disturb one part of the system, then all other parts will be affected too; in order to survive they then have to work together to re-establish equilibrium. Functionalists argue that members of a society must hold some common beliefs, perceptions and attitudes - a value consensus - in order to function effectively. This consensus is achieved through socialization, which is performed primarily by the family and the education system in modern industrialized societies (Taylor et al, 2000).
This is to say that each part of society functions both in autonomy and dependence upon each other part. Thereby, on a macro level, one can examine how nations work, with governments, religious systems, educational systems, families, and other institutions each fulfils its own ascribed purpose, and effectively makes the nation function well as a whole. On a smaller level, one can see how communities work, with churches, schools, businesses and families working to make their communities a pleasant place to be. ...Show more