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questions :Structural functionalism
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[Visitor (112.21.*.*)]answers [Chinese ]Time :2021-03-04
The basic principle of functionalism developed from the 19th century, when biology dominated. Knowledge of the human body, microorganisms, and plants and animals around the world grew. The greatest achievement of the 19th century was that Charles Darwin gained unprecedented prestige in biology by absorbing this new knowledge and explaining species evolution through natural selection. Early social thinkers inspired by these advances naturally applied some of the concepts of biology to sociology.

August Conde and Herbert Spencer put forward the most basic principle of functionalism: society and biological organisms are similar in many ways. This concept contains three main points:
First, societies are as structured as biological organisms. An animal is made up of cells, tissues and organs; Similar to it, a society consists of groups, classes and social settings.

Second, like living organisms, a society must meet its basic needs if it is to continue. For example, a society must be able to obtain food and natural resources from its surroundings and allocate them to members of society.
Third, similar to the parts that make up the biological organism, the various parts of the social system also need to function in a coordinated way to maintain the healthy functioning of society. Influenced by the Italian sociologist Pareto, Spencer and his followers insisted that any system would naturally move towards equilibrium or stability, and that all parts of society played a role in social stability. Therefore, from the point of view of functionalism, society is a complex system composed of various parts that functionally meet the overall needs and thus maintain social stability.
Later scholars absorbed the basic idea of functionalism of "social and biological similarity" and refined and supplemented it. Dilkem is often seen as the founder of contemporary functionalism.

He sees society as a special organism regulated by the consensus of moral values. Functionalism is also the main theoretical perspective held by the creators of British cultural anthropology.
In the United States, Tarcott Parsons was the leader in developing functionalism into a comprehensive and systematic theory in sociological analysis. He believed that a society could function only if it met four basic needs, that is, to maintain order and stability (Parsons, 1951; Parsons and Smelser, 1956).
These are sometimes referred to as the four basic requirements of functional necessity: the acquisition of goals, adaptation to the environment, integration of different parts of society into one whole, and control over transrail behaviour. Parsons, in particular, emphasizes the satisfaction of the function of social integration, which requires members of society to accept and abide by the shared values of society. He believes that these shared values "stick" society together. If too many people reject these values, social stability will collapse.
Robert Merton (1968) improved Parsons' functionalism theory to make it more conducive to empirical research. His theory begins with the analysis of a particular unit in the social structure. Early theorists often used a social component to maintain the role of the whole to explain its existence, so it is difficult to explain why there are still some social damage to the community units, and they believe that as long as a unit in the social structure exists, it must play a role in maintaining the whole. "However, Merton points out that not all components of the social system function positively, and that when a unit in the social fabric prevents the needs of society as a whole or its components from being met, it is counter-functional."
When religion unites members of society, it is playing a positive role; When the army is protecting a society from harm, it is also functional; When a political machine integrates immigrants into society by providing information about government and social services, it also plays a positive role. However, when religion stirs political strife in places such as Northern Ireland (Darby, Dodge and Hepburn, 1990), when the army runs out of resources needed for more pressing social needs, such as health and education institutions, when a political machine lives on corruption and corruption, it plays a counter-function.
It should also be emphasized that the functions performed by social structural units are not limited to "formal" or expected functions, and that, in addition to those already realized or explicit, a social structural unit has unreal or unexpected potential functions. For example, one of the obvious functions of universities is to educate young people and lay the foundation for future professional work. One of the subliminal functions of universities is to reduce the pressure on economic life by excluding a portion of the population from the labour market.
Functionalism has been criticized on many issues, mainly because it reflects a conservative view of society. Since it emphasizes shared values and sees society as made up of components that work together for the benefit of the whole, functionalism seems to leave little room for those who disagree with these social values and attempt to change them.
Critics accuse functionalism of largely ignoring social discontent and social conflict. Because functionalism is so dependent on order, stability and consensus, it may even misinterpret the true nature of society. Critics point out that, unlike organisms, parts of society do not always work together for the overall benefit. Certain components of society are in conflict; Profits in some parts come at the expense of others.
The harshest criticism of functionalism comes from schools known as conflictists. They think a functionalist perspective may be useful in studying stable societies. But looking at today's world, society is changing rapidly, conflict is not the exception but the law.
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