An approach or orientation of studying social and cultural phenomena. It holds that society is essentially a set of interrelated parts, e.g., institutions, beliefs, values, customs, norms, etc., and that each of these parts has a particular purpose, i.e., that each of these parts functions in a particular way. It is held that no part, its existence, or operation, can be understood in isolation from the whole. Society is seen, from this position, as analogous to the human body or any other living organism. Each of the "parts" of society are seen as operating much like organs of the body. As in the body, it is held that if one part of society changes it affects the other parts and how they operate or function, and it also affects how the total system performs as it may also affect the continued existence of the total society (organism).
    Functionalism's critics have pointed to its tenuous assumption of the necessary integration of all of the social systems parts. Critical and radical sociology thus see functionalism as essentially conservative in nature, both intellectually and politically.

 










   

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