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Functionalist perspectives

Theoretically, the functionalist perspective explains the society as one comprised of many interdependent parts with each working towards the good of the whole. The perception here is that all the institutions will work interdependently to ensure the stability of the whole society. (Associated Content Inc). It is likened to the body system which is comprised of various parts like the lungs, the liver and hands which have varying roles though they all work towards ensuring that the ‘whole body’ works effectively.

If one part of the body breaks down then the whole body will become unstable but when all parts are in harmony, then the entire system will restore harmony. Similarly, when all institutions are in balance or when are working effectively they help the society to stabilize. This means that each part of the society or each institution in the society works for the good of the larger system. The aspect of division of labor or specialization becomes critical in the sense that people are supposed to perform the roles that they are best suited in ensuring harmony in the entire system.

It adopts or rather embraces a consensus approach rather than a conflicting or independent approach of explaining how a society works. For instance it looks at the various institutions in society with their contribution to the main society and is not limited to their specific role played by the institution in the society. (Andersen and Taylor 21). The assumption here is that there are specific values that are embraced by a society and all the institutions work to ensuring they are ensured. I think that the functionalist perspective can be used to explain today’s society where no institution works or operates independently.

Instead they complement each other in realizing the stability of the entire system. All the institutions in the society are held together through social consensus as well as cooperation. Without an effective legal framework or institution, other institutions for instance religion and education cannot operate effectively leading to the destabilization of the entire system. The functionalist perspective can be used to explain the inequalities in the society but it explains the importance of these inequalities towards ensuring the stability of the society.

Functionalism can be used to explain wage inequalities using the notion that different people have different talents to fill in varying positions. Depending on the sacrifices or efforts made towards attaining important skills that are attached to high positions in society, then different wages are offered. At any given time people’s incomes will vary and there will always be poor and rich people. Varying positions in the society will demand varying abilities and talent and if people work towards producing what they can produce best then the society will be in harmony.

Varying rewards or incomes will be attached to varying positions thus explaining the different social classes in the society. Important training or skills are needed to fill in some positions like judges or surgeon. The roles or duties of a judge or surgeon cannot be compared with those of a school teacher although both positions are vital in the society. The two demand varying skills and sacrifices and consequently differing compensation. Members of the society are encouraged or rather motivated to move from one position to the next by the rewards through the acquisition of appropriate training or skills.

In this way people will always be striving to achieve higher. The functionalist perspective embraces the importance of differentiation in any society where different members are entitled to different responsibility where they can perform best. It also highlights the advantage of the reward system which encourages people to strive and attain those positions with higher rewards. The functionalist perspective categorizes the society into various classes where there are those positions with higher rewards and those without.

There are those positions demanding higher talent and ability and there are other positions that demand less talent thus calling for varying incomes or rewards. One’s ability determines their reward. (Andersen and Taylor 486). This perspective explains the importance of otherwise useless aspects in the society where for instance it highlights the advantage of poverty in society to ensure that manual and cheap labor which is critical is provided. It also highlights the importance of crime in society. (Associated Content Inc).

Any society will need high level members or professionals the same way it will need people to offer unskilled labor. Various theories have been coined to explain gender inequality. There is a notion that there will always be a difference between men and women given their different biological make up which translate to differing responsibilities in the society. Women are biologically prepared to give birth and take care of their children. Their caring motherly nature can be termed as having been biologically introduced though it will be associated with other social aspects.

This is to say that there will always be a natural division of labor that associates women with domestic chores or responsibilities as opposed to men. (blog. lib. umn. edu). The functionalism perspective on gender has it that men will carry out the instrumental functions or roles while the women will conduct the expressive ones and the interdependence or complementary nature of their responsibilities will see to it that social order is ensured. (blog. lib. umn. edu). In the modern times concerns have been raised that gender discrimination should not be encouraged on the basis of biological differences between males and females.

Although there are certain emerging issues that will affect them differently for instance males will never go for maternity leave while the males may be at a better position to fit in some jobs than women there are instances of unjust discrimination against women. Gender inequality is defined as the difference in status, power, prestige that exists between men and women in the society. (Giddens and Griffiths 478). It is clear that gender inequalities exist in all societies and it is embarked by the socialization process that starts as soon as one is born.

From the family institutions, boys and girls are socialized differently in the schools as they are prepared for their varying roles in the society. Girls are oriented to be care providers, making their homes as well as performing domestic chores while boys are taught to be responsible in making them bread winners at a later date. After a day’s hard work the females are expected to console the males and a stable society is to be realized. Gender inequality is no longer a traditional issue that was recorded in the ancient societies as it is still experienced today despite a sizeable proportion of women joining the labor force.

Their wage earning do not match the earnings men make even when they are of similar or equal educational background and experience. Women still complain of discrimination in the workplace as far as the hiring, compensation or wages as well as promotional practices are concerned. The functionalism perspective which argues that the institutions work towards ensuring an effective larger system cannot satisfactorily explain the gender injustices associated with gender discrimination due to gender inequalities. It advocates for the increased hard work, training and sacrifice to rise up the ladder.

On the contrary women continue to earn lower than their counterparts the males even when they have equal skills, expertise or experience. Most women will tend to work in those positions that are known to be done by females as opposed to those perceived to be done by males. Gregory in ‘Women and workplace discrimination’ noted that less than 12% women held senior management positions despite having similar qualifications. The total number of women in the workforce is also lower than that of men. The women most affected by the discrimination policies today are the aged, pregnant, of color as well as those with children.

Chances of promotional to higher position are lower for the women thus seeing them remain in low level jobs. The functionalist perspective can explain their remaining in low level position especially in sales or advertising despite the impact their work has to the performance of the entire companies or corporations. The laws favoring those in power especially men have seen women discriminated as the weaker sex despite the fact that they have equal capacity. The decision making role is mostly done by males portraying women as indecisiveness.

Reward in this context is not based on the performance but on the perception of the dominant people in the society. Women tend to be paid lower wages even at the high ranking position. Gender discrimination is also evident across racial lines. (Gregory 5). It is clear that gender inequality is here to stay although it cannot be justified on the basis of competence or talent but on cultural attributes which are passed on from one generation to the next. Works Cited: Anthony Giddens and Simon Griffiths. Sociology. Polity Publishers. 2006. 478 Associated Content Inc. 2009.

Retrieved on 20th February 2009 from http://www. associatedcontent. com/article/1330486/sociological_perspective_functionalism. html? cat=47 Sociological Perspective: Functionalism Gender Inequality Differences between Men & Women: Nature Versus Nurture. Retrieved on 20th February 2009 from http://blog. lib. umn. edu/clar0514/academic/gender. pdf. Margaret L. Andersen and Howard Francis Taylor. Sociology: Understanding a Diverse Society. Thomson Wadsworth 2005. 21, 486 Raymond F. Gregory. Women and Workplace Discrimination: Overcoming Barriers to Gender Equality. Rutgers University Press, 2003. 5-13

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