Functional Structural Theory

Functional structural theory sees society as a whole system that works to create social order and stability. This theory is often called the perspective of functionalism, coined by Emile Durkheim. Durkheim studied a lot about social order and how society can live in harmony. Functionalism focuses on social structures at a macro level. Some of the sociological figures who were influenced by Durkheim’s theory of functionalism included, Talcott Parsons and Robert K. Merton.

Functionalism sees individuals as part of society who are in a large social system. This social system works to create stability in the social order. Society, thus is a collection of individuals who work in a system to maintain social stability. Durkheim himself saw society as an organism. Organisms are composed of several components that play their respective roles. When each component moves on its own, the organism will experience dysfunction or failure to function. Functional structural theory sees social institutions or institutions as components of a social system. Each institution is designed to carry out its function.

Also read: Social Institutions: Definitions and Examples

In the view of functionalism, social institutions will exist if they succeed in carrying out their proper functions. If not, social institutions will disappear by themselves. In sociology, some of the social institutions referred to include: family, government, economy, media, religion, and so on. If social institutions do not work properly, the social system will collapse and it will take a long time to recover to its original state. Post-war conditions are examples where the social system is damaged and fails to function as a result of war. After the war, the economy did not work, the government experienced a power vacuum, and other aspects of social life broke up. Functional structural theory sees this as the destability and breakdown of social systems.

In everyday life, we can see how functional structural theory works in a system. For example, the government established schools in order to provide education for its citizens. Students are prepared to fill jobs and positions in government later. While working, they came to pay taxes. The tax money is used to pay for education and others. Workers, also supply the cost of living for their families to continue to exist. In the end, students who were originally funded and educated by the state will finance the state in order to continue to exist. From the point of view of structural functional theory, if the system operates as it should, namely the government finances education, students learn and then work, the social system will be in a stable condition.

Read also Social Systems: Definition and Examples  In its development, the structural theory of functionalism has been criticized. The main criticism that is often made, for example, functionalism justifies the status quo . This theory is considered to serve those in power to maintain their power. Functionalism does not encourage individuals or groups to take the initiative to make social change, even though social conditions are in extreme imbalance. Each individual only carries out his role in a structure. Functional structural theory guides each component of society to function as it should.


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