From the team that brought you the bestselling Understanding Classical Sociology (SAGE Publications, 1995), we now have a companion volume dealing with the modern period of social theory. An introductory chapter situates the reader in the main changes in society and sociology following the classic period. This is then followed by separate chapters giving a detailed account of four perspectives that are regarded to be of seminal importance - Functionalism, Critical Theory, Structuralism and Symbolic Interactionism. All of the popular features of Understanding Classical Sociology are reproduced in this book: · Clarity of exposition and criticism· A passion for the importance and relevance of sociological reasoning and explanation· A commitment to treat social theory as a living tradition of thought In addition, the volume comes with a variety of pedagogic aids including summary points and key definitions to facilitate learning and study.This is a book that enhances the sociological imagination. It draws on the authors deep understanding and experience of teaching the subject over many decades. It will be welcomed by lecturers as a vital new teaching and research aid, and students will be stimulated and enriched by the unfussy and reliable advice on doing sociology that it imparts.
Beginning Chapter Two
In this chapter we will present an account of functionalism, a sociological approach which was prominent in the United States particularly through the work of Talcott Parsons and Robert Merton. The chapter includes discussions of:
- early functionalist thought in British anthropology;
- Parsons' functionalism from: The Structure of Social Action to The Social System;
- some applications of the framework: professional roles and McCarthyism;
- Merton's adaptations of the framework;
- the fate of functionalism.
As we said at the conclusion of the previous chapter, we begin with functionalism mainly because it was the reactions to it which gave much of modern sociology its intellectual shape even though these reactions had their roots much earlier than functionalism's own rise to prominence in American sociology.
These days ‘functionalism’ is a dirty word in the ...