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Soc 102 on structural functionalism

by: Freddie816

Soc 102 on structural functionalism SOC 102

Marketplace > University of California - Los Angeles > Sociology > SOC 102 > Soc 102 on structural functionalism
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Lecture on Parson's theory of Structural Functionalism
Contemporary Sociological Theory
Class Notes
sociology, soc, 102, jepson, parsons, structural, Functionalism, Talcott Parson, Contemporary, sociological, Theory
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Freddie816 on Sunday April 24, 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 26 views. For similar materials see Contemporary Sociological Theory in Sociology at University of California - Los Angeles.


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Date Created: 04/24/16
    4/5/16  ● Structural functionalism  ○ Began with Talcott Parsons, ideas dominated during the 20’s  ○ Main question (Hobbesian theory on social order): How is it that social order is  maintained within society? Why are people not just killing each other?  ■ Hobbes: society is held together by a supreme ruler who instills fear among  members of society and forces people to obey (intimidation/threat of force)   ■ Parsons:  society is held together through a system of interrelated parts­  shared ideas, values and beliefs;similar to an organism, members work  together to maintain the whole (the system/society)  ● In contrast to coercion that is short lived, systems last because each  member of society agrees to live by shared ideas, values and beliefs  (moral rules)­social contract, which become internalized and  routine that people learn to conform automatically   ● In other words, people can live together because they share the  same beliefs   ■ The economy  ● According to structural functionalism, each member of society  works to benefit the economy through individual roles   ● Ex the hierarchy of social order:  ○ The economy (social structure)   ○ Corporation (institution)   ○ Business (organization)  ○ Worker’s (role)   ● Each of these subsystems functions to maintain the economy, some  are valued more than other (hierarchy of power), if one were to  disappear from the bottom of the hierarchy such as a worker, it is  unlikely that this would hurt the whole ie. the economy   ○ In other words, each subsystem, be it negative or positive,  serves a greater purpose: to maintain the economy. So even  if we think something is bad in society, most likely is that it  is serving to maintain society. Ie­globalization: this  eliminates jobs but keeps our prices low. War: hurts us  financially but protects our economy. Athletes: our tax  dollars make up their salary but their function provides  society with entertainment  ○ The larger the structure, the more important it is for our  system. I.e­athletes are paid a lot because they are important  for the system (society values leisure so we pay athletes  ridiculous amounts of money      4/5/16  ■ Education: we go to school everyday because  society values education and is the best way to make  a living   ■ How are people motivated to do what they do tov maintain the system the  way that it is?  ● Moore and Kingsley: although equality is valued by society it must  be limited  ○ inequality is a universal and necessary part of society  ○ Competition increases as it rewards people certain benefits  over others   ● Both functionalists argue that through inequality, our society  motivates people to do what they do (maintain the system). Such as  a doctor who goes to school for 20 years, he does so in order to  gain the unequal benefits that come with his title: a high salary. If  there was no inequality among society, and people did not gain  certain benefits over other, people would not be motivated to  maintain our structure of society   ● People compete for higher positions in order to reap the benefits  (people compete for top positions in order to gain more benefits  than others)  ○ People at the top of the social hierarchy must reap from  certain benefits in order for roles to be fulfilled/for society  to prosper   ○ Higher incomes are evidence of the functionality in  maintaining the social system that people perform   ● However, this poses a problem. Relationships thrive on equality  and through varying levels of money, power and prestige, increases  inequality and thus ruins the relationship.The more MPP one has, the  more isolated he becomes  ○ ie­ high level of competition in UCLA soc department  increases isolation/people work alone in their research as  they work to gain more MPP  ○ Some of the most successful people are the most miserable   ○ Marxist view of functionalism   ■ Argues that social inequality is unjust and promotes meritocracy: that  people are where they are based on merit   ● This ideology is used  to justify economic inequalities       4/5/16  ■ People are on top of the social structure because they exploit the  economy.(have more capital). Thus, they do not benefit society but benefit  themselves  ● Most people get their wealth through inheritances not through hard  work. Ie­Bill gates­would he have found Microsoft if not for the  advantage he was given: his inheritance ?  ○ Talcott parsons on structural functionalism   ■ Parsonian thinking was the most prominent after WWII  ■ His theory was that each social system must meet 4 fundamental  requirements in order to exist (AGILE) → each requirement works for an  institution   ● Adaptation   ○ Adaptation is the requirement for each social system to  adapt to the larger social and physical environment  ■ This includes the need for a system to exist and  thrive in coordination with nature/weather/soil  ○ Social: through means such as  trade,   societies have  evolved in order to meet this essential requirement by  trading their own goods for other necessities. Ex: Saudi  Arabia is able to survive in a desert environment by trading  oil for other goods  ● Goal attainment  ○ The requirement for social systems to give individuals an  ultimate shared objective. It is this shared notion of an  ultimate goal that hold people together (Goals give people a  purpose/solidarity)   ● Ex US goal: the pursuit for happiness  ○ Goal attainment is usually set out by the government   ■ ie­Protect people from danger.   ● The more important the goal, the more we  value those who carry the goal out (police  officer, veteran etc  ● Integration   ○ The requirement for every social system to integrate  individuals into society   ■ Integrating individuals allows people to work  together and maintain the system   ● Ex­the family (teaches the child to  cooperate/work well with others)→ works      4/5/16  in harmony for the school (rears children into  valuable employees)→ works in harmony  with the economy   ● Ex­ law, religion, the family etc  ● Latent pattern maintenance  ○ Every social system needs to give people a break in order to  allow them to  rejuvenate  and thus,  increase  productivity­R   enews values  ■ Ex­ coffee breaks, paid vacations, paid  maternity/paternity leave   ■ Model of action systems  ● Cultural system ­ enforces latent pattern maintenance through  shared values and beliefs (reward and punish the individual through  shared social values)  ● Social system ­enforce integration among individuals such as by  increasing tolerance in an increasingly diverse society  ● Personality system­ the primary  agency  of action processes, hence,  the implementation of cultural principles and requirements/shared  goal  ● Behavioral Organism­  “the adaptive subsystem” ie­ regulates  behavior by channeling biological impulses into socially acceptable  ways; a good society allows for some flow of release into socially  acceptable ways. For instance: marriage regulates people’s sex  drive and allows for the release of sexual tension within a  monogamous relationship.        


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