(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

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).

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