Functionalism is often referred to as the consensus theory because it does not address the issue of conflict in society, and functionalists believe that society operates in a harmonious way that maintains itself in a state of balance, remaining healthy and co-ordinated and any sudden practices that may upset the balance are rejected:
"Sociologists who use functionalist theory assume that society is an organised system of interrelated parts held together by shared values and processes that create consensus among people"
(Coakley, 1998, p.32)
From a functionalist perspective a consensus containing shared norms and values is vital to the functioning of society as order flows from consensus. A sporting example of this is a football team, the players and staff want to win (shared norms and values) and they are willing to help each other out to achieve this, thus the whole team and staff contribute.
A functionalist approach is popular with sociologists aiming to try and preserve the status quo in society, they believe that anything that may upset the balance such as disharmony or exclusion are rejected.
From a functionalist view, sport is used to promote common values held essential to the integration and development of a society. McPherson, Curtis and Loy (1989, p.102) believe that "all groups strive to maintain the social order, and that sport can facilitate this process". Functionalists want to show how sport is a valuable contributor to social stability that benefits society as well as individuals, because from a functionalist perspective sport would be seen to help integration within society as it gives people something in common with strangers, and strengthens their relationship with friends.
The Government aims to improve health and they identify how sport is a means of this (Appendix 1), the approach to achieving this is predominantly a functionalist approach in...