The Early Functionalists

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The Early Functionalists. 1850-1920. The analysis of society as a system composed of parts that affect each other and the system as a whole. Functions = purposes or consequences. Functionalism. System – analogy of a living organism If the society is orderly the organism will be healthy.
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The Early Functionalists1850-1920The analysis of society as a system composed of parts that affect each other and the system as a wholeFunctions = purposes or consequencesFunctionalismSystem – analogy of a living organismIf the society is orderlythe organism will be healthy.Universal Consensus (shared values) keeps the society orderlyFunctionalism19th-Century Liberal– believed in the freedom of business from government controlLaissez-faire – “unseen hand” (Adam Smith)Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)The good of society would best be served if each man looked out for himself.No program for social changeNo program for maintaining social orderHerbert Spencer (1820-1903)Two major contributions to sociology: Organic analogyEvolutionary view of historyHerbert Spencer (1820-1903)Two major contributions to sociology: Organic analogySociety is a systemFunctions like a living bodySolidarity derives from the interdependence of the partsEvolutionary view of historyDarwin’s theory of natural selection applied to societyHerbert Spencer (1820-1903)Social Darwinism (“survival of the fittest”)–People are poorbecause they cannot adapt to the social environmentRich men rise to the top because of natural talents(genetic superiority)Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)Opposed public education – because poor people would not make good use of itOpposed women’s suffrage – because women might not be sufficiently evolved to make political judgmentsHerbert Spencer (1820-1903)Emphasized a scientific approach – Social problems should be carefully studied, rather than letting “do-gooders” rush in to “fix” them.Spencer later reversed some ofhis most conservative ideas.Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)Emphasized a scientific, mathematical approachViewed society as a system in equilibrium– a change in one part will lead to changes in other parts– final result: stabilityVilfredo Pareto (1848-1923)What appears to be social change is really a “circulation of elites”:Lions – honor, duty, tradition, property, nationalism, and maintaining power by forceFoxes – innovation, imagination, democratic sentiments,and maintaining power by manipulationVilfredo Pareto (1848-1923)Established sociology as an academic fieldShowed its unique contribution as distinct from psychologyInfluence of Comte’s Positivismemphasis on scientific methodconcern about social orderEmile Durkheim (1858-1917)Collective Conscience– shared values (similar to universal consensus) – produces social solidarity – derived from a society’s division of laborDisagreed with Spencer:Durkheim did not see solidarity as resulting spontaneously from individual actions, but as collectively maintained.Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)Two kinds of solidarity:MechanicalOrganicEmile Durkheim (1858-1917)Two kinds of solidarity:Mechanical– characteristic of small- scale societies with a simple division of labor (men hunt, women forage)same tasks similar positions similar views social stabilityEmile Durkheim (1858-1917)Two kinds of solidarity:Organic– characteristic of large- scale modern societies with complex division of labor – derives from interdependence of roles (like a living organism)Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)Two kinds of solidarity:Organic– more difficult to maintain than mechanical solidarity – can result in anomieAnomie – the absence of norms – results from breakdown in social solidarityEmile Durkheim (1858-1917)Religion – expression of the collective conscience – traditional source of shared values – less influential in modern societiesFuture source of solidarity: scientific educationEmile Durkheim (1858-1917)Research Method The Whole = more than the sum of its parts(Society is more than acollection of individuals.)Sociology is the study of social facts.Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)Social facts areTHINGS.Criteria:External (to the individual mind) – objective Coercive (at least potentially)Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)Study of social facts requires:objectivityexperimentcomparisonComparative method: studying the same elements in different societiesEmile Durkheim (1858-1917)Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)Evolutionary view:societies develop from simple to complex (progressive differentiation)Evolutionary view:societies develop from simple to complex (progressive differentiation)Unilinear process (straight line – going in one general direction)Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)Evolutionary view:societies develop from simple to complex (progressive differentiation)Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)Evolutionary view:societies develop from simple to complex (progressive differentiation)Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)Evolutionary view:societies develop from simple to complex (progressive differentiation)Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)Evolutionary view:societies develop from simple to complex (progressive differentiation)Study of SuicideShowed difference between sociology and psychologyFocused on rates of suicidebetween societies and sectors of societies, rather than on individual reasonsEmile Durkheim (1858-1917)Study of SuicideTypology showedrelationship of suicideto the individual’sconnection to society:Altruistic suicide (for the group)Egoistic suicide (isolation)Anomic suicide (social/moral breakdown)Fatalistic suicide (person blocked by society)Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)Summary:Functionalistsociety as a systemevolutionary viewconcerned about social order and anomie Wholistic:Whole = more than sum of partsEmile Durkheim (1858-1917)Summary:Scientific approachResearch – objective and comparative Method focused on the study of social facts (“things” – external and coercive)Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)
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