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Either one - Essay Example

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Finally functionalism looks at society in terms of institutions and values which must adapt to their social environment in order to function well. Main Factors (Kent 2000) states that functionalism is the oldest but still the dominant theoretical perspective in Sociology. It marks the application of the scientific method to the objective social world. It applies the Darwinian theory of biology of survival of the fittest to the study of society. In other words, unconsciously certain social values and structure evolve because they are best suited to the survival and growth of the society in the social environment in which it finds itself. Therefore these values and structures will differ from society to society depending on its’ particular environment. For example, a society such as the Taliban which feels culturally threatened by what it perceives as a corrupt West adopts a strict single religion with homogeneous values and rigid social structure. It is a “we” (Taliban) versus “they” (the corrupt West) mentality. In contrast a western democracy such as the United States, more confident in its’ cultural survival, can allow greater freedom of religion and values and more divers social stryctures as long as the rights of fellow citizens are respected. The application of the scientific method means that one can study society objectively through such techniques as surveys and interviews without assigning any value judgment to the findings. Sociologists under functionalism view society as an organism or social system with each component being essential to the functioning of society as a whole. For example, some may argue religion must be considered essential to a society’s survival. However religion plays a very different role in a theocracy such as Iran than in the US. In the former the single religion permitted, Islam, functions as a unifier against the Western World. In contrast in the US the freedom of religion allows any religion or no religion to be practiced as long as the rights of others are not violated. Here the function of this diversity is to encourage different religions to coexist peacefully. Functionalists also argue that society’s survival requires in the long run a state of equilibrium so that there is a consensus regarding values. For example, Americans in general favor differential occupational rewards to encourage people to enter fields that require more education and/or are inherently riskier. However, if the differential becomes too great social unrest can result as the protests of the “99%” suggest Robert Merton developed a strain theory to explain deviant behavior by people unable to comply with the American Dream ideology of making money as a measure of success manifested by conspicuous consumption. For example they could reject the goal and withdraw from mainstream society and become drug addicts or turn to religions in which materialism is rejected, or they could acknowledge the goal and try to acquire wealth by illegal deviant means such as fraud, theft, burglary or drug trafficking. The equilibrium can be maintained by sanctions such as incarceration for extreme dissenters or feedback by those adversely affected to encourage adjustment of norms regarded as too harsh. Functionalism prescribes individual behavior. For example, corporate executives were once expected to make ...Show more
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Summary

Different theories of sociological perspective such as functionalism, conflict theory, interactionalism and feminism offer different perspectives concerning how society is structured and why particular social problems exist. Conflict theory is the negative opposite of functionalism…
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