Structural Functionalism

Structural functionalism, or simply functionalism, is a framework for building theory that sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability. This approach looks at society through a macro-level orientation, which is a broad focus on the social structures that shape society as a whole. This approach looks at both social structure and social functions. Functionalism addresses society as a whole in terms of the function of its constituent elements; namely norms, customs, traditions, and institutions. A common analogy, popularized by Herbert Spencer, presents these parts of society as "organs" that work toward the proper functioning of the "body" as a whole. In the most basic terms, it simply emphasizes "the effort to impute, as rigorously as possible, to each feature, custom, or practice, its effect on the functioning of a supposedly stable, cohesive system". For Talcott Parsons, "structural-functionalism" came to describe a particular stage in the methodological development of social science, rather than a specific school of thought. The structural functionalism approach is a macrosociological analysis, with a broad focus on social structures that shape society as a whole.

Read more about Structural FunctionalismTheory, Structural Functionalism and Unilineal Descent, Decline of Functionalism, Criticisms, Influential Theorists

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... Radcliffe-Brown developed a structural functionalism approach in anthropology ... went beyond the instrumentalist argument of Radcliffe-Brown’s structural-functionalism, which approached social norms, kinship, etc ... essential difference between the ritual description of structural relations and the anthropologist’s scientific description.” For instance, in his book, Leach argues, “the question that whether a ...
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