Robert Merton on structural functionalism
Robert Merton on structural functionalism SOC 102
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Freddie816 on Thursday April 14, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to SOC 102 at University of California - Los Angeles taught by Jepson in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 15 views. For similar materials see Contemporary Sociological Theory in Sociology at University of California - Los Angeles.
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Date Created: 04/14/16
4/12/16 ● Robert merton ○ Although he was a student of Parsons, Merton distinguished himself by going against Persons belief of structural functionalism. Merton argued that society was not as holistic as Parson thought(systems are very loosely integrated and so you can't make theoretical frameworks of social patterns as serving social functions) and he rejected the notion that the parts of society work together in solidarity to benefit the whole (i.eorgan system) ○ Merton argued that not every social pattern (cultural values, beliefs and customs) functions to benefit society such as marriagemarriage was viewed by Parsons to serve the functional of controlling human impulses i.esex drive but as we see today, it is becoming more socially acceptable to remai nmarried ell into old age. Thus society does not need marriage in order to survive. ■ About 22% of children today do not have married parents ■ A majority of women remain unmarried ■ More and more children are married out of wedlock ● Society also can do well without lawyers, drug laws, physical strength etc ■ Other dysfunctional social patterns ● Industrialization ● Slavery ○ Merton further adds that social patterns are not always functional bc they only benefit the few/function differently for everyone ■ Slavery only functioned to benefit the south, while simultaneously not allowing the US to develop (civil war was a manifestation of this dysfunction) ○ Furthermore, Merton argued that social patterns are not always functional bc the needs of the social system and the needs of the individual are not the same ■ For instance, society needs individuals to procreate in order to survive, but individuals do not simply engage in sex for the purpose of benefitting society. Rather, people have different motivation ■ Religion is a social pattern with the important function of creating and maintaining solidarity bw individuals, but individuals do not engage in religious ceremonies in order to benefit society, they do so for a possible belief in god ○ Consequences of larger functions ■ Merton argued that each function had its consequences ● Latent functions result in unintended consequences ● Manifest consequences result in intentional consequences ○ Iecompanies that go offshore (globalize) do so for their own benefit i.e to save money (manifest function), but this results in unintentional consequences (eliminating jobs in the US) 4/12/16 ■ If companies help others as a result of globalization, this also becomes a latent consequence ○ Iepeople go to school to get an education, latent function is that the self worth of a BA decreases ○ Anomie ■ According to Merton, anomie results when there is a disjuncture between cultural values and structural opportunities (society's definition of a good life is too high for individuals to achieve) ● The bigger the gap (bw social values and one's ability to achieve those values), the greater the anomie ■ Ex US society ● Our culture places a lot of emphasis on the achievement of money and material goods ● We are taught that in order to be happy, we must accumulate enormous amounts of wealth ● This poses a problem, especially to the poor, when they cannot achieve this standard of living (obtain a large amount of wealth) ● Merton theorizes that this will lead to anomie and will most likely result in suicide ■ Reference groups ● Depending on who individuals identify with (who they want to be more like), will vary levels of anomie/anomie will vary depending on who individuals identify with (role model) ● Merton believed that reference groups are important to understanding anomie bc people's goals and values are determined by who they refer to ○ Ppl set standards of living based on who their role model is ○ Responses to anomie (5 specific modes of adaptation) ■ Ritualism ● Ritualism occurs usually within the poor when people become accustomed to their way of life (not having a lot) and permanently lower their standards “Poverty is ritualized” ● Motto: happiness is found within simple pleasures ■ Conformity ● Conformity is usually associated with the middle class when they temporarily lower their standards, with the expectation that “it will get better” ○ Common belief: “if we make small sacrifices now, we will receive larger rewards in the future” ieif we work hard enough now and do not indulge in unnecessary things such as material goods, we will receive greater benefits in the future” (resulting from our hard work) ■ Innovation 4/12/16 ● People may choose to respond violently when they see that they cannot achieve social standards (the american dream), and revert to illegal activity such as crime (the poor may choose to steal, CEO’s steal billions of dollars) ■ Retreatism ● Individuals withdraw from society (reject the expectations and the means of the social order) ○ drop out or give up trying to achieve the standards of society ○ Ex the homeless ■ Rebellion ● People form groups and engage in civil right activism and demand equality, against societal values
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