Functionalism and Marxism are both known to be structural perspectives, due to the fact that they concentrate on a group of people rather than on the individual himself. Although very similar the two are different in very distinct ways, in fact Functionalism falls under the sub-heading of consensus structuralism, while Marxism falls under the sub-heading of conflict structuralism. As the sub-headings suggest they may be considered as opposites in various ways. The similarities and differences of the two opposing though similar theories will be discuss throughout this essay.
There are five main elements which outline the views of functionalism and tell us exactly what functionalists believe. The first element is known as the biological analogy, which is a metaphor in which the whole of society, with all its different parts, is compared to the human body. In this analogy functionalists sustain that since society, like the body is made of different but equally important parts, it is important to study each part in detail on its own, just like a biologist does when studying an organism.
Therefore every part of the institutions of society, such as: the family, education, the media and the economy, must be studied in great detail if one is to fully understand it. Functionalism also mentions the importance of studying the effect of these various parts on society as a whole, just like it is important to know what effect the liver has on an organism.
The second element is called the structure, which states that any behaviour in society is, to a certain extent patterned. Functionalists believe that we do not really have any freedom of choice in our lives as they are affected by an institution, all of which put together form a social structure and impose certain decisions on us through a pattern...