1. What systems in society provide stability?
2. How effectively do specialized institutions meet the overall needs of society?
Central Approach:
To understand a society, we must study how the society works to meet the needs of its members, not how it is changing.
Related to Central Approach:
Structural functionalists are more interested in how society works to meet the needs of its members than in how it is changing.
Each society should provide its members with system prerequisites, the fundamental requirements for functioning.
Structural functionalism is a consensus theory and focuses on the macro level (looks at the large scale institutions).
7 Main Assumptions of Structural Functionalism:
- Systems have a property of order and an interdependence of parts.
- Systems tend toward self-maintaining order, or equilibrium.
- The system may be invovled in an ordered process of change.
- The nature of one part of the system has an impact on the form that the other parts can take.
- Systems maintain boundaries within their environments.
- Allocation and integration are two fundamental processesses necessary for a given state of equilibrium within a system.
- Systems tend to rely towards self-maitenance to change the system as a whole.
Influential Theorists:
Structural functionalism draws its inspiration primarily from the ideas of Emile Durkheim. Durkheim was concerned with the questions of how societies maintain internal stability and survive over time.
1. Talcott Parsons
2. Herbert Spencer
3. Davis and Moore
4. Robert Merton
5. Almond and Powell
Major Social Institutions
1. Family: reproduction of new members
2. Education: socialization of the young
3. Ideology: belief in higher power
4. Economy: production and distribution of goods and services
5. Politics: maintenance of social order
Social Functions:
1. Manifest functions: the manifested and intended consequences
Family: Members love each other
Religion: Sense of belonging
Health: Helping sick people
Government: Community services
Education: Train students for employment

2. Latent functions: the unrecognized and unintended consequences
Family: Become member of a society
Religion: Sponsor social events
Health: Volunteer work
Government: Employment opportunity
Education: Meeting new people

3. Dysfunction: the undesirable consequences
Family: Teen pregnancy
Religion: Don’t believe in higher power
Health: No cure for disease
Government: Corrupt bureaucracies
Education: Not graduating
Key Terms:
1. Institutions: those organizations within society that act to mould us into individuals
2. Norms: customary types of behaviour
3. Role: a particular set of behaviours that we must follow in order to be recognized as an actor
4. Values: the beliefs of a group that provide standards for members’ behaviour
5. Integration: the process of opening a group, community, place or organization to all, regardless race, ethnicity, religion, gender or social class
6. Consensus: an opinion or position reached by a group as a whole
7. Structure: A system of status-roles, or positions, which are usually arranged in a hierarchical fashion.
8. Function: A complex of activities directed towards meeting a need or needs of a system.
Structural Functionalism Related With Real Life Events:
- Suicide
- Poverty
- Deviance
- Crime
Criticisms On Structural Functionalism:
Structural functionalism has been criticized for being unable to account for social change because it focuses so intently on social order and equilibrium in society. Sociology