British Structural Functionalism/ Does a perfect society work ?

I was a little confused on this topic a little bit when we discussed it in class, I had some questions and I also found it a little hard to understand when it came to looking at people within their own society. It made me instantly have different examples come to mind on how my society views people and the things they do. Structural Functionalism looks at a perfect was of looking at people and how a society is ran, well that is what I got out of it. They want it to be a perfect society and/or world but it doesn’t necessarily work that way. There will always be someone that is not okay with how things are being ran and thats what makes up laws and different ways of doing things. It makes up a world or society that has flaws, because lets be honest no one is exactly perfect and that goes for a society as well.

I think about examples of a perfect society and/or a perfect person, and I instantly think of race or crime. Would one race in a society be more perfect than another race? How can we define a perfect society with so many different people within that society? People are brought up into the world from different generations and different customs and views, perfect is not exactly the best word to describe different. I also thought about how structural functionalism thinks about conflict, which is very interesting. They believe in ignoring conflict which seems to be a little difficult, there is no way everyone can just ignore conflict. Conflict will happen because no one is perfect and conflict is something people deal with all the time. Again, a perfect society would still somehow have conflict because not every person will be happy with everything. There are small conflicts or bigger conflicts but people still either are apart of that conflict or have something to say about it that bothers them.

I think of how someone commits a crime and we instantly blame that gender, race, or age whenever that crime comes up again. I think it’s a bad way of classifying people and a certain crime to certain people, its profiling and I know our society has that bad. I don’t believe in the idea that everyone is apart of someones mistakes or their bad ideas. That person chose to do that for a reason and that is on them. That is why there can’t be a perfect society, there is too much conflict, crime, and hate in society’s for their to be a perfect one.I think this theory brings up many things we don’t really think about and how we can kind of be more appreciative that it is okay we are not perfect and it is okay that our society has flaws, can you imagine if we had no choice but to be a perfect society?

6 thoughts on “British Structural Functionalism/ Does a perfect society work ?

  1. It seems as though Structural-Functionalism assumes that people cooperate as a hive. The minds are interconnected (regardless the cultures) to accomplished the same goals. Almost utopian, from the sounds of it, especially with ignoring conflict. This theory also seems as though it was created by men who like to have control over a mass population and want them to be as assimilated to their beliefs as possible.
    If you remove free will, it wouldn’t be hard to accomplish a perfect society, especially with a puppet master pulling the strings, making everyone do exactly what they want, when they want it, and how they want it.

    1. I do think that the point about structural-functionalism is not that they ignore conflict exists. The point is that they are theorizing that structure functions to manage and reduce conflict. We have to think about the theory – what it says is important in explaining how humans life. That’s not the same as the actual data!

  2. Lexi, I think that your post perfectly illustrates why structural-functionalism just doesn’t work well if we’re extending our observations to complex state societies. The people that Radcliffe-Brown, Malinowski, and Evans-Pritchard were studying were smaller scale societies without diversity in ethnicity or class.

    Some sociologists have also tried to apply this kind of functionalism to complex state societies like ours (Talcott Parsons was very influential in the 1950s and 1960s), but I can’t imagine that it didn’t just accept the status quo, along with racism, classism, heteronormativity, and so on.

  3. I really like your last sentence, “can you imagine if we had no choice but to be a perfect society?”. Here I am trying to think how someone could even enforce that? No matter what there would be rebellion against it I think no matter how scared of consequences people may be there’s always a group to fight back. I’d also like to say through reading your post and others I feel like I am starting to understand British Structural Functionalism.

  4. I had a hard time understanding this topic, as well. I think there is a lot that Structural Functionalism just does not consider. I also believe there is no such thing as a “perfect” society. I just do not see how that would be possible. When I think of this topic, my mind tends to go to crime. Living where we do, I feel that we see a lot of stereotypes surrounding crimes and the “type” of criminal associated with them.

    1. Remember, Michaela and others – structural-functionalists didn’t work in societies with crime as we know it. There were ‘deviant behaviors’ as defined by that culture, and they studied ways in which those deviances (the acts, not the people) were managed. I don’t think that structural-functionalism is all that applicable to our own plural society with extreme stratification. There’s a lot of problems with BSF as a theory for humanity, but it did add in important elements of studying social structure that many of us still use today.

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