'Every sociological perspective has its limitations. However some are more useful than understanding society.' Assess this view. (40 Marks)

Essay by naughtygal March 2005

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Marxism, Functionalism and Feminism are sociological theories alongside several others, they are fundamental to the whole discipline of sociology.

Functionalism is a structural theory they argue that society is made up of interrelated and interdependent institutions such as education, work, religion, law, the family etc. The main function of these institutions is to maintain social equilibrium.

They see society similar to a human body with all the internal parts working together to bring out equilibrium. Functionalists see individual action as the product of social institutions such as the family and education socializing the young into cultural values and norms, this means people believe in much the same thing and consequently their actions and patterns are predictable.

"Durkheim believed the very core of society is it values which are passed on and reinforced by family, school religion etc." Individuals behave similarly in the same social context because they have been socialized into the same cultural rules and goals.

However Functionalist see institutions such as education and work organizations allocating people to roles in which they would make an effective contribution to the day to day running of society, they believe there is a class system and people gain their job, money etc through their own merit. Therefore functionalists believe human action is shaped and controlled by social forces such as value consensus and the need to maintain social order, beyond the individuals control , they results on this conformity is social stability and the reproduction of society generation by generation.

However it is argued that functionalists over emphasis consensus and order, and play down conflict. They tend to focus on functions or benefits of social institutions and consequently neglect the dysfunctions or harm that institutions can cause.

Marxism is a macro approach based on a conflict between capital and wage...