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FUNCTIONALISM: Major Tenets. Society as organism Functionally inter-related parts Societal survival depends on satisfying the needs of the system. Social Stratification ensures the proper distribution of social resources…. Dominant Theory in the 50’s and 60’s.

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  1. FUNCTIONALISM:Major Tenets Society as organism Functionally inter-related parts Societal survival depends on satisfying the needs of the system. Social Stratification ensures the proper distribution of social resources…. Dominant Theory in the 50’s and 60’s

  2. Talcott Parsons:Functional Imperatives • The basic assumptions all involve the “Hierarchy of Relations of Control.” • The basic subsystems of the total system constitute a hierarchical series of controlling agencies over the behavior of the individual. • Father – Mother – Oldest –Youngest • Mother – Father – Oldest – Youngest • President – Provost – Dean – Chair – Professor – Associate Professor – Assistant Professor – Instructor – Student (5th year – 4th year….) • Individuals act in situations that includes “others.” • Not just “any” others, but others with some specific set of ordered relations to the individual • The “others” are the source of modes of action, rewards, deprivations – • Powerful controlling elements in the “social organism.”

  3. #1 LATENCY: Pattern- Maintenance • Refers to the imperative that the patterns of institutionalized culture remain stable (orderly change) • Two Components to the imperative • Pattern of values • Motivational commitment

  4. #2 Goal Attainment • Refers to the prioritized use of scarce resources for the attainment of various goals within the system of goals. • There is a pluralism of goals (set) and of facilities (resources), which result in the problem of organizing resources in the system. • The primary criteria for organization is flexibility. • maximizing disposability of resources in the process of allocating for alternative goals. • Therefore, while it is possible to have a social system with only one goal, most situations involve many environments and require a system of goals.

  5. #3 Adaptation • Refers to a directional change to reduce the discrepancy between the needs of the system and the conditions of the environment. • The system is inter-related to a physical and socio-political environment, therefore, adaptation is essential to survival. • Usually seen in the form of shifting societal goals.

  6. #4 Integration • Refers to the mutual adjustment of subsystems in a way that contributes to the effective functioning of the total system. • All social systems are composed of smaller subsystems. • In complex, highly differential societies the integrative function is found in the system of legal norms. • The allocation of rights and obligations to differing subsystems. • The differences in integrative function offers the greatest distinction between societies and is the focus of sociological theory.

  7. Age and Sex in the Social Structure of the United States by Talcott Parsons (1940’s) • “Age Grading” does not involve direct categorization • Age Grading is inter-related with other social elements • As an organizing point for many social components: • Kinship structure (Preferential treatment of older children – birth order is irrelevant) • Education • Occupation • Community participation

  8. Sex Differences in Social Structure • Perhaps play interests and dress differences are diminishing with time, BUT • Females are still more apt to be docile and conformist • No female equivalent to the “bad boy.” • Males are more apt to be recalcitrant to discipline and defiant of adult authority

  9. Conformist v. Deviant • One explanation for the difference is that from an early age girls are initiated into many aspects of the adult female role. • Mothers teach young girls the activities of the house and the importance of the activities • Fathers, on the other hand, are not present for most of the young boys • Young boys are not able to “see” the work of Dad.

  10. Male Role Model Isolation • The son is not able to see his father work. • Especially true of the urban setting • The son is then left with no tangible model to emulate • Farm boys tend to have “good sense,” but urban boys lack good sense.

  11. Age and Sex Stratification Transitions • Throughout the life course there are certain transitional periods where fundamental changes in stratification take place. • During each transition new features of the social setting create change in the influence of age and sex on the hierarchy of authority.

  12. Childhood to Adolescence • End of sex role symmetry • Begin girl chaperonage and supervision • Begin boys being given more unsupervised activity • Begin a complex combination of age and sex grading • Youth culture • Many activities repudiate adult interests • Adult males are responsible and dependable, but young males are irresponsible and undependable

  13. Male Examples • Emphasis on athletics or comparable interests • Attractiveness is a value in athletics • An average roundedness of competence is valued over the performance of a specific function • “He is a nice guy.”

  14. Female Examples • Tendency to accentuate sexual attractiveness • Dating success is a form of prestige • Popularity and prestige are based on the superficial qualities not concrete qualities

  15. Adolescence to Adulthood • Both sexes experience a loss of the glamorous element • Males move from the athletic to the business executive model • Males are not genuinely respected unless they have an occupational status that earns a living • Females move from the beautiful, sexy to the domestic model (in some cases the business) • Females that take the domestic route are not employed or are employed in jobs that do not compete for the same status as males • Females that take the business route are not married and do not have children – the very few that are have dramatically altered home lifestyles from the general population

  16. Adult Sex Role Tension • The emergence of the occupation as the principle status component is the main source of adult sex role tension in marriage • In modern society the wife has lost the equality of rural society • The wife has a Pseudo occupation based on the drudgery of chores • A disassociation of the personality from the tasks being performed • Advertisements focus attention of the disassociation by using the desire to have hands that do not look like they wash dishes • Thus, the domestic model is most closely followed and defended by those that cannot compete in occupational status

  17. Female Sex Role Change Two Trends are present today • One is the modified domestic model • The symbols of female attractiveness has been taken over by practices traditionally beyond the scope of “respectable” society • Female emancipation • Women smoking, drinking, tattoos, piercing, etc. • The second is a humanistic model • Here the concern is for the progress of community • The wife as good companion and civic patriot

  18. Female Sex Role Categories • Domestic • Wife • Mother • Home Management • Glamour • Beauty • Leisure • Attraction • Companion • Community • Social Welfare • Politically Attentive

  19. Male Sex Role Change • Many Elements of Strain • Expectations • Achievement • Responsibility • Authority

  20. Male Sex Role Limitations • Occupational Specialization • High levels of energy required • High levels of time required • Very narrow behavioral content • All restrict the area to share common interests and experience (especially with the wife or girlfriend) • Open relationships that are work related create a rivalry friction in the marriage

  21. Old Age • The most common feature of old age is Isolation from the rest Two Structural Reasons • Children become independent through marriage and occupation • Parents are left without any significant continuous kinship group • Occupational structure creates a gradual retirement process (not abrupt) • The elder is in a position where the functions are gradually reduced, so aging reduces the job and the attachment to community • Social isolation, less than physical deterioration may be responsible for the increasing numbers of physical maladies among the elderly (Heart disease, Alzheimer's, and Cancer)

  22. The System of Modern Societies • Society is a social system with the highest level of self-sufficiency. • Relative to the surrounding environs • Depends on the inputs received through interchanges with environs • Stability means balancing the inputs and outputs exchanged surrounding environs

  23. Self-Sufficiency of the Social System • Four components • Economic – Involves the adaptive function of society. • Political – Involves the goal attainment function of society. • Personality – Involves the pattern-maintenance function of culture in relation to values. • Social – Involves the degree to which institutions are legitimized and integrated by the consensual value commitments of its members.

  24. Subsystems of Society SubsystemFunction Societal Community Integrative Fiduciary Pattern Maintenance Polity Goal Attainment Economy Adaptation

  25. Societal Community • Primary function is to define the obligations of loyalty to the societal collective. • Loyalty is the readiness to respond to properly justified appeals for action in the name of public interest. • The big problem for the individual is the adjustment of obligations among competing loyalties. • Family v. work

  26. Fiduciary • Value commitments in contrast with loyalty are independent of cost or punishment. • To not meet your agreements of trust is illegitimate. • Value commitments are a matter of honor and or guilt. • Fiduciary agreements are generalized not specific. • The agreement to not exploit others is different from lending money for interest.

  27. Polity • The organizational component responsible for enforcing normative standards. • In complex societies the function is performed by specialized agencies. • Police • Court systems combine the determination of obligations with the specific interpretation of the meaning of norms. • Constitutional law • A social system is political when it involves the mobilization of resources for the attainment of collective goals. • Business firms and universities are political • Government is centered on two primary functions: • Maintain society against generalized threats • Collective action to promote the public interest

  28. Economy • Governing the practical matters of managing social resources. • Involves the development of a generalized monetary medium. • The development of markets and monetary instruments. • Rests on the “rights” component of citizenship. • An economy that is purely administered by government violates the individuals freedom ot engage in market transactions. • Once highly developed however, government administration becomes an important channel to mobilize societal resources.

  29. Manifest and Latent Functions by Robert K. Merton • Manifest Functions refer to the conscious motivations for social behavior • Building a new road to relieve traffic congestion • Latent Functions refer to the objective consequences of the same behavior • Increased congestion, fostering a need for more roads • Manifest (motive) and Latent (function) vary independently • The subjective categories of motivation vary independently of the objective categories of consequence.

  30. Two Specific Uses of Manifest and Latent Function • Clarifies analysis of seemingly irrational social patterns. • Many social patterns persist even though the purpose is clearly not attained. • If purpose and outcome do not (or cannot) be coordinated there is a tendency to attribute the behavior to ignorance or superstition. • The problem for sociology is that the perspective ignores the function the behavior may fulfill which is separate from the motivation. • For example, the “rain dance” may perform a function that has nothing to do with producing rain. • Only the meteorologist should be concerned with whether or not the dance produces rain! • Sometimes irrational behavior maybe positively functional for the group.

  31. #2. Directs attention toward theoretical thinking. • Directs attention to latent functions which are beyond the manifest functions of behavior. • Does the new system of wage payment reduce employee turnover? • An important question, but confined to the manifest, the study is directed by practical concerns, and not the theoretical interests of the sociologist. • The terms of appraisal are fixed by the question. • Armed with the concept of latent function the sociologist can investigate the idea that “the propaganda campaign not only increase the tendency to buy war bands, but also decreased the tendency to express ideas which differ from official policies. • Hawthorne Western Electric

  32. Conspicuous Consumption • The manifest purpose of buying goods is to satisfy needs • Costliness=excellence of the goods • The latent purpose is to heighten or reaffirm social status • Costliness=mark of higher social status

  33. Conspicuous Consumption (2) • The problem with making the manifest function the end is: • Manifest functions do not fully account for the prevailing patterns of consumption. • If status enhancement were removed from the pattern of consumption, the patterns would change in dramatic ways that no economist could predict.

  34. Manifest Functions of Consumption • People eat caviar because they are hungry. • People buy Ferrari’s because they want the best car. • People have dinner by candle light because they like the peaceful atmosphere. • The common-sense manifest motives of the purchasing practice gives way, • To the many latent functions which are also, perhaps more significantly fulfilled by the practices.

  35. Manifest and Latent Functions in Politics and Business • Functional deficiencies of the official political structure generate an alternative structure to fulfill the needs of a specific sub-group. • Both illicit activities and political machines derive their power from the connection to the local community. • Providing services that are not attainable through official legal structures. • Hamas • Drug Dealers • Politics is transformed into personal ties.

  36. Legal and Illegal Business • In real (functional) terms there is no difference between illegal and legal business. • Both are concerned with providing goods that are in economic demand. • Vice, crime, and drug dealing are “big business.” • In functional terms there is no difference between providing liquor to the people of a “dry county” and providing liquor to the people of a “wet county.”

  37. Common Structural Features: legal and illegal business • Market demand drives the supply of goods and services • Major concern for maximizing profits • Need for partial control of government to avoid interference in the operation • Need for a central agencies to act as a liaison between business and government

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