This book is an indispensable resource for anyone interested in the roots, current debates and future development of social theory. It draws together a team of outstanding international scholars, and presents an authoritative and panoramic critical survey of the field. The volume is divided into three parts. The first part examines the classical tradition. Included here are critical discussions of Comte, Spencer, Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Simmel, Mead, Freud, Mannheim and classical feminist thought. This part conveys the classical tradition as a living resource in social theory, it demonstrates not only the critical significance of classical writings, but their continuing relevance. The second part moves on t
Chapter 12: Functional, Conflict and Neofunctional Theories
Functional, Conflict and Neofunctional Theories
Between roughly the mid 1940s and the late 1960s, structural functionalism was the dominant theoretical perspective in sociology. Talcott Parsons was its major figure, and so great was his influence that even the sharpest critics among his contemporaries conceded that they had to define their own intellectual positions in relation to his (Alexander, 1983). The abstractness of Parsons' theorizing and his grandiloquent writing style were, during his time of prominence, widely discussed and debated; but sociologists were generally less reflective about many of the distinctive suppositions of Parsons' structural functionalism. Perhaps the distinguishing features of the perspective remained in the background due to the relative absence of competing paradigms (cf. Ritzer, 1980). In any case, Kingsley ...