Unemployment from a functionalist and conflict perspective

Essay by LuciWhiteUniversity, Bachelor'sB, September 2004

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Lucianne White

Assignment 1

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Sociologists study human society. Their subject matter includes human behaviour in various social contexts, social interaction, social institutions and organisation, social change and development (Haralmbos, Van Krieken, Smith & Holborn 1999). For this reason, unemployment is an issue which sociologists delve. Unemployment has far reaching affects in all areas of society. Stratification in the areas of age, race, class, gender, ethnicity, sex and disability is rife amongst the employed and unemployed alike, unemployment creates further segregation amongst these already stratified people. This essay will look at unemployment from the functional and conflict theory perspective, as well how four main institutions (family,

education, government and health) are affected by unemployment. It will also look at Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim and their contribution to sociology and the theory of functionalism and conflict. Unemployment affects almost everyone to some degree during their lives, the need to understand how we can deal with the issue is becoming critically important to society as a whole.

Functionalist Theory

Function is an unclear term, often used by orthodox sociologists to define the logical and social place of roles, institutions and structures in terms of the production and reproductionof a society as a social

system - as in the idea that the function of the family is to socialise new members of society (Bessant & Watts, 1999).

Functionalists believe everything serves a specific function in our society and these functions need to be understood. Everyone has a role to fill in this functional society, in other words we need to have stratification so as everyone has a purpose. Functionalists are very

boundaried and thin within the square. For this theory to really work, there needs to be a consensus amongst the individuals that make up society, they need to...