Functionalism 101: Key Concepts and Principles

Functionalism 101: Key Concepts and Principles Sep, 16 2023

Understanding Functionalism: A Primer

As a woman who spends most of her time etching words, weaving ideas, and trying to make sense of my Siamese cat Liara's sulking bouts, I find it fascinating how the human society works. The diversity, the complexity, the mechanics of it all and, let's not forget, the human mind's role - it's all quite phenomenal. This brings me smoothly into the topic at hand - Functionalism, a theoretical approach that explains how different aspects of society work together. Let’s explore the key concepts and principles underpinning Functionalism – like pieces of a puzzle, each has its role, to form a larger picture that works in synchronicity.

Origins of Functionalism: Tracing Back to the Roots

So let's start at the beginning. Functionalism, like most ideas, didn't just spring up out of nowhere. It has its roots and, let me tell you, they run deep. The term was first coined in by Emile Durkheim in the early 20th century. Does the name ring a bell? Well, if not, that's alright. You're not participating in a television quiz-show, are you? Durkheim is often credited as the 'father of Functionalism'. He proposed that society was kind of like the human body. What? Yes, you heard me, the human body. He argued that just like the human body is composed of different parts that work together to ensure the overall health and functionality, society also functions in a similar way. And guess what? Durkheim was a sociologist - wasn't expecting that, were you?

Key Principle: Collective Consciousness and More

Now, Emile Durkheim formulated several principles but one, in particular, stands out: collective consciousness. No, it has nothing to do with astral projection or mind reading. It revolves around the concept that a certain set of shared beliefs, ideas, and moral attitudes operate as a unifying force within society. It's like when my poodle Beau and I cross paths with a menacing cat and, in unison, we scamper away in mutual understanding. It's about cohesion, it's about harmony, and it's about working together.

Functional Imperatives: The Building Blocks

In the lovely world of functionalism, there are what the scholars like to call 'functional imperatives'. These make everything tick, just like my old school wall clock that has been with me since my childhood. The wall clock is still working, but of course, the wall clock needs to be wound (or given a good thump every so often!). Similarly, functional imperatives are the building blocks of functionalism. They include adaptation to the environment, goal attainment, and integration and latency. If the society fails at these, it's like the wall clock breaking down: chaos ensues, and no one knows what time it is.

A Functionalistic Society: How It Functions?

What are we really talking about when we say a functionalist society? Is it some sort of utopian idea that 'all for one and one for all' mantra resides in everyone's heart? Not exactly. It's simply a society where everyone plays their part and has a purpose, even if their purpose doesn't align with yours. Take, for example, my female Siamese cat Liara whose aim in life appears to be flipping my important papers as I type away; she has a role. I don't quite follow the logic in her mind - but alas, it's her purpose, and it seems to keep her content. So, in a Functionalistic society, everyone has a role - from the humble street cleaner to the high-powered lawyer - and all roles are necessary for society to function properly.

Functionalism Criticised: The Other Side of the Coin

Like all theories, functionalism also has its critics. Some argue that functionalism over-emphasizes the harmonious and stable nature of societies and fails to take into account social conflict and inequality. It's like blindly believing that my poodle Beau and Siamese cat Liara will get along swimmingly all the time, without their fair share of hissy fits and barking bouts. The world is complex and filled with disagreements, and functionalism, according to its critics, falls short in addressing these complexities.

Functionalism, like every sociological theory, has its strengths and weaknesses, yet its exploration remains an exciting endeavor. It encourages us to see ourselves as part of the social world, each playing a role in maintaining societal harmony. So whether it's composing elaborate blog posts like this one or curbing my poodle Beau's insatiable shoe-chewing passions, we're all part of the grander framework of society, like the multitude of cogs in a magnificent timepiece.

As we delve into the labyrinth of sociological theories, remember that theories are like glasses - they allow us to see the world in different ways. Each perspective is different and valuable in its own way. And as my poodle Beau does his evening stretches and my Siamese Liara curls up on the window sill, I realize - isn't life just like that, a grand blend of diverse perspectives, all woven into a fascinating tapestry!

With this I'll put my pen to rest, or as we folks of the digital age say - take my fingers off the keyboard. May this perspective on functionalism enlighten and entertain you in equal measure. Happy Sociologising folks!