Contemporary Sociological Theory
It endeavors to give an approach to the community at a more comprehensive and general point of view, and also give a pragmatic approach to the shaping of society. In addition to explaining the society as a complex system, the structural-functional approach goes ahead to assert the social structures that are responsible for guiding the lives of the people. In other words, the structures define the trends that the lives of many will take, may it be at an individual level, at a family level or even at a community level. The theory also addresses some social rituals and gives meaning to them, examples ranging from simples ones such as the sharing of hugs to more complex ones such as those of the religious ceremonies.
It is such facets that give structure to the everyday life of the people. The theory also makes us aware of the consequences that emanate from the observation or defiance of this outright and straightforward balance. For this reason, efforts need to be made to ensure that this arrangement should not be changed by all means whatsoever. From an overview perspective, a society comprises of groups of individuals with different interests, but who persistently possess social interactions. Needless say that these different interests lead to some element of adhesion. Contrary to this, the structural functionalism on the other hand views society as continuously aiming to attain a state of equilibrium. S. , where the Whites had accumulated a lot of wealth as compared to the blacks.
At the time of slavery, the government and most of the major establishments in the south were under the stewardship of the whites. The ruling by the whites continued even after the slavery period ended due to some reasons. In places where the blacks outnumbered the whites, and their dominance threatened, the whites’ established formal laws, which placed them at a structurally advantageous point of view (Mills, 1959). The approach views the community from a macro-level of observation and holds that the progression of the society is equated to evolutions such as those of organisms. The theory does a lot of explaining the reason for the occurrence of the different aspects of society, and the way they continue to do. However, in the example given above on the superiority of the whites over blacks, structural functionalism fails to explain the opposition to the institutions in the society and the social structure by the blacks, who are the ones in oppression (Robertson and Bryan, 1991).
Apart from the assumption that the society is striving towards attaining equilibrium, functionalism has another hypothesis, which holds that the social bodies are distinct and should be examined independently. The different institutions of the society are taken to be separate, and the studies made should be specific and definite. Women are denied the chance to pursue their dreams and goals in life, all in the name of taking their position as housewives. In extreme cases, the theory overlooks the grey areas of family life, domestic violence. Nonetheless, functionalists have debated that the majority of the people do much better with clear boundaries delivered by socialization (Sterelny, 1990). The limitations prevent alienation or social instability which emanates from erosion of social values and standards.
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