Jeffrey C. Alexander - Neofunctionalism


In sociology, neofunctionalism represents a revival of the thought of Talcott Parsons by Jeffrey C. Alexander, who sees neofunctionalism as having 5 central tendencies:

  • to create a form of functionalism that is multidimensional and includes micro as well as macro levels of analysis
  • to push functionalism to the left and reject Parsons’s optimism about modernity
  • to argue for an implicit democratic thrust in functional analysis
  • to incorporate a conflict orientation, and
  • to emphasize uncertainty and interactional creativity.

While Parsons consistently viewed actors as analytical concepts, Alexander defines action as the movement of concrete, living, breathing persons as they make their way through time and space. In addition he argues that every action contains a dimension of free will, by which he is expanding functionalism to include some of the concerns of symbolic interactionism.

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