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Functionalism and the Roots of Sociology




Schools must instil the value of achievement by rewarding those who succeed, and the value of equality of opportunity, so that all who make the necessary commitments will succeed.

Hence, the best people will go on to fill the most important positions This represents achieved status in action.

Can you think of any reservations

you might have with Parsons?

Slide 7

Emile Durkheim and Integration

Emile Durkheim and Integration

For Durkheim, people are creatures whose desires are unlimited. “The more one has, the more one wants.” This natural insatiability must be kept in check by external, social controls.

A well-regulated society should impose controls (social controls) on human desires.

What state ensues when regulations on human behaviour begin to break down?

Slide 8

Functionalism as a Macro, or Structural-Sociology

Functionalism as a Macro, or Structural-Sociology

So, the individual is born into an ongoing social system – it existed before you were born. It exists independently of you, and determines our behaviour. The individual acts according to a ‘script’ laid down by society. The values, institutions and of society shape our actions and roles.

What do you think this says about individual choice (‘agency’)?

Are we puppets? “For a moment we see ourselves as puppets indeed. But then we grasp a decisive difference between the puppet theatre and our own drama. Unlike the puppets, we have the possibility of stopping in our movements, looking up and perceiving the machinery by which we have been moved. In this act lies the first step towards freedom.”

Peter Berger (1963)

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