functionalism

(noun) A theory that views society as a orderly and stable system with interconnected parts designed to meet the needs of individuals in a society.

Audio Pronunciation: (func·tion·al·ism)

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Usage Notes:

  • The basic assumption of functionalism is all elements of society serve a purpose.
  • To understand functionalism think of different aspects of society as body parts or car parts, each part as a purpose.
  • Also called:
    • functionalist perspective
    • functionalist theory
    • social systems theory
    • structural functionalism
    • structural-functional perspective

Related Quotations:

  • “According to [functionalism], a society is composed of interrelated parts, each of which serves a function and (ideally) contributes to the overall stability of the society. Societies develop social structures, or institutions, that persist because they play a part in helping society survive. These institutions include the family, education, government, religion, and the economy. If anything adverse happens to  one of these institutions or parts, all pother parts are affected the system no longer functions properly” (Kendall 2006:15).
  • “Functionalist perspectives assume that society is a stable, orderly system characterized by societal consensus” (Kendall 2006:37).

Related Terms: 

Useful Information

Parts of Speech:
  • (adjective) - Word that expresses an attribute of a noun (big, little, short, tall).
  • (adverb) - Word that modifies or qualifies the meaning of an adjective (unbelievably talented), verb (singing loudly), or another adverb (singing quite beautifully).
  • (noun) - Person (teacher, Bob); place (mountain, New York City) thing (rock); idea (happiness); or quality (charismatic).
  • (verb) - Action (run); occurrence (happen); or state of being (be).
Abbreviations:
  • e.g. - For example.
  • etc. - And so on.
  • i.e. - In other words.
  • Ibid. - In the same place.
  • et al. - And others
Useful terms
  • coin - (verb) To create a word or additional meaning of a word.
  • comparison - (noun) How two things are similar.
  • connotation - (noun) The figurative or emotional meaning of a word.
  • contrasted - (noun) A comparison based on difference(s).
  • denotation - (noun) The literal dictionary meaning of a word.
  • type - (noun) A specific version of the primary word.
Formatting
  • [Example] - Indicates modification from the original, without changing the meaning, used typically for capitalization, to change plurality, or for clarification.
  • - Indicates a new paragraph, used in long quotes to show original formatting.
  • . . . - Indicates the removal of a portion of the quoted text for brevity but not in a way that changes the meaning.