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Identify And Discuss The Key Features Of Both Functionalist And Marxist Theories. [25 Marks]

2777 words - 12 pages

Identify and discuss the key features of both Functionalist and Marxist theories. [25 Marks]

Functionalist and Marxist are macro sociological theories that give a better understanding of the society. Functionalist theory is referred to as the consensus whilst the Marxist theory is known as the conflict theory. Key features of both theories are going to be identified and discussed.

According to Haralambos and Holborn (2008), a theory is a set of ideas which attempts to explain how something works.

Functionalism is one of the major theoretical perspectives in sociology which explains how social order is possible or how society remains relatively stable.

Marxism is a theoretical ...view middle of the document...

A common goal provides an incentive for cooperation. (Haralambos and Holborn, 2008)

From a functionalist perspective, society is regarded as a system and for this system to survive its various parts must have some degree of fit or compatibility. Thus a functional prerequisite of society involves at least a minimal degree of integration between the parts. Many functionalists argue that this integration is based largely on value consensus, that is on agreement about values by members of society. Thus if the major values of society are expressed in the various parts of the social structure, those parts will be integrated. Thus, the parts must work hand in hand with each other. Moreover, for the continuation of the society, there must be a general consensus or agreement over basic values. For example, it can be argued that the value of materialism integrates many parts of the social structure in Western industrial society. The economic system produces a large range of goods, and ever increasing productivity is regarded as an important goal. The educational system is partly concerned with producing the skills and expertise to expand production and increase its efficiency. The family is an important unit of consumption, with its steadily rising demand for consumer durables such as washing machines, videos and microwaves. The political system is partly concerned with improving material living standards and raising productivity. (Giddens, 2006), and (Haralambos and Holborn, 2008).

In addition, functional pre-requisite is also another key feature of the functionalist theory. According to functionalists, societies have certain basic needs or requirements that must be met if they are to survive. Parson states that the society needs basic functional pre requisites for its survival. The pre requisites such as integration, adaptation, goal attainment and pattern maintenance are required. Society must adapt to the environment they live for it to continue to exist. Furthermore, the society must have a degree of control over the environment. A system of socializing new members of the society may also be regarded as a functional pre requisite, since, without culture, social life would not be possible. The society also needs food, shelter, water for it to survive. Therefore the economy must find means of producing those basic needs. Moreover, the society should set goals, so in order to attain them the society should set rules that need to be followed. Also the society must adjust and follow the rules, thus being integrated into the system and besides this, the society should maintain basic pattern and values. Having assumed a number of basic requirements for the survival of the society, the next step is to look at the parts of the social structure to see how they meet such functional pre requisites. (Fulcher and Scott, 2007)

Another key feature of the functionalist theory is that conflict is temporary. It is caused by scarcity of resources. When there is...

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