Explanation, Social Stratification, Social Inequality,
Social Structures, Labeling
Structural functionalism is a
perspective used in the analysis of societies and their component features, focusing on
their mutual integration and interconnection.
Structural functionalism deals
with and focusses on what social functions various elements of the social system perform
with regard to the system as a whole. Social structures
are placed at the center of analysis in structural functionalism, and social functions are
deduced from these structures.
Structural functionalism means
that social institutions which collectively form social structures, function in order to
maintain the harmony of the social whole.
Structural functionalism was a
theoretical school in British social anthropology
and was formulated in opposition to evolutionism. The concern of structural functionalism
was a continuation of the Durkheimian task of explaining the need for stability and
internal cohesion in the system as a whole.
Unlike the other major
theoretical approaches, the structural functional model comes from a variety of authors.
Though it is mainly associated with Talcott Parsons, the
single most famous article is a short summary article on social stratification by Kingsley Davis and Wilbert
Moore. Robert Merton is another well known sociologist who provided some important
structural functional theoretical statements.
Parsons and the functionalist
approach to sociology occupy an intermediate position between classical and contemporary
sociology. Parsons and the functional approach to sociology became so dominant that
sociology and functionalism became more or less
Wallace and Wolf trace the
development of structural functionalism to Comte, Herbert Spencer, and Durkheim. The
functional approach was developed from the 1930s through the 1960s in the United States.
emphasizes the aspects of social institutions and behavior that are conducive to stability
and order within society. Functionalism analyses the way that social processes and
institutional arrangements contribute to the effective maintenance and stability of
society. The fundamental perspective is opposition to major social
its inspiration primarily from the ideas of Emile Durkheim, Bronislaw Malinowski and
Radcliffe-Brown. Structural functionalist theory is associated with Radcliffe-Brown and
Structural functionalism is a
range of theoretical perspectives within anthropology and sociology that addresses the
relationship of social activity to an overall social system. The most famous
accomplishment of the structural functionalists was the formulation of segmentary lineage
as a Heuristic Device - Chilcott, John H.
Abstract: Argues that structural functionalism as a method for conducting fieldwork and as
a format for the analysis of ethnographic data remains a powerful model, one that is
easily understood by professional educators. As a heuristic
device, functionalist theory can help in the solution of a problem that is otherwise
incapable of theoretical justification. - eric.ed.gov
Feminine Faces of Leadership: Beyond
Structural-Functionalism? - Fennell, Hope-Arlene
Abstract: Reviews four philosophical leadership perspectives: structural-functionalism,
constructivism, critical theory, and feminism. Explores the leadership phenomenon through the eyes of
six women principals. Although the behaviors of all six fall within a
structural-functionalist perspective, each is attempting to construct inclusive, positive,
and enabling leadership practices. (39 references) (MLH)
Outcomes-Based Education Reexamined: From Structural Functionalism to Poststructuralism - Colleen A. Capper,
Department of Educational Administration, 1186D Educational Sciences Building, University
of Wisconsin-Madison, Michael T. Jamison - Educational Policy, Vol. 7, No. 4, 427-446
Outcomes-Based Education (OBE) views itself as a drastic break from current educational
practices and a means of providing educational success for all students. Though not stated
in overt terms, Outcomes-Based Education also positions it self as a means of
"emancipating " students and teachers from traditional practices which lead to
educational inequity. This article reexamines Outcomes-Based Education from a
multiparadigm perspective of organizations and educational administration.
Synecdoche and Structural-Functionalism
by N. J. Demerath III © 1966 Social Forces, University of North Carolina Press.
Abstract: Both critics and defenders tend to regard structural-functionalism as a single
school with a distinct identity and a common strategy. This paper suggests that
structural-functionalism harbors at least two different approaches which lead to different
conclusions and different vulnerabilities. Thus, it matters whether one is primarily
concerned with the structural part or the systematic whole. In each case there are
advantages and disadvantages, but charges of Panglossian unity, illusions of
indispensability, static analysis, and ideological conservatism do not apply equally to
Structural-Functionalism Reconsidered: A Proposed Research Model
by Ruth Lane © 1994 The City University of New York.
Abstract: Structural-functionalism, once the flagship of comparative political research,
has fallen upon the ash heap of history, discarded by friends and foes alike for failures
of theoretical rigor and, worse still, falsity of predictions about political development.
Hindsight suggest that structural-functionalism need not be so arbitrarily discarded. When
radically revised by means of a conversion from macro-analysis to a form of
micro-analysis, structural-functionalism shows a theoretical vigor that its successors