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STRUCTURAL FUNCTIONALISM

Functionalist Explanation, Social Stratification, Social Inequality, Social Structures, Labeling Theory

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 synonymous.

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.

Structural functionalism 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 change.

Structural-functionalism drew its inspiration primarily from the ideas of Emile Durkheim, Bronislaw Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown. Structural functionalist theory is associated with Radcliffe-Brown and Evans-Pritchard.

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 theory.

Structural Functionalism 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 (1993)
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 both.

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 often lack.