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Study of the Structural Functional Paradigm

Study of the Structural Functional Paradigm

The structural-functional paradigm is a framework for the structure of society. The structural-functional approach tells that all parts in the society works together in order to form a harmonious, sensible and stable society. This approach sees the society as a macro-level orientation. Each and every component is interrelated and it is concerns with broad patterns that shape society as a whole. The larger social institutions of the society such as population, education, economy, government play very important roles on shaping our lives. The family is considered as the most favourable body composition of the social organization because family is the most elementary and closest social structure which every individual attached to. For example, assume that if the students are not present, the teachers would not exist as well. Because there is an interrelated relationship between the students and teachers which represents that the society is a complex system where parts coordinate together to balance and stabilize the civilization. Auguste Comte, the “Father of Sociology” said that it is very important to keep the society together because many traditions were weakened due to the rapid change of the humanity. Herbert Spencer linked the society to the human body. For example, a society is composed by a large number of individuals as a complete functional group. In human body, many cells and tissues form the organs of the organism, such as hands, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, etc. Various organs of the organism have its unique features to meet the needs of the organism and to maintain its survival. Similarly, various social structures have its unique features to meet the needs of the community and provide a stable and balance society. Study of the Structural Functional Paradigm


Case Study of Structural-Functional Paradigm

The social structures of marriage and family create deep social and emotional bonds that give individuals in depth systems of support and generate expectations of social responsibility within their members, achieving the function of creating social cohesion. Basically, spouses support each other financially, socially, emotionally and physically and are driven to achieve by socially defined expected standards of married life. Families provide the same systems of support for all of their family members, providing healthy settings and opportunities for individual growth for the children.  The structural – functionalism perspective sees the family doing its part by preparing its members in a way that will benefit the society. The family is like a body or system and each member performs vitally important functions. Similarly, the heart is dependent on the lungs and brain for the body to function properly. If one part or a person is not doing its or his/her part then it is said to be dysfunctional. The family is said to be not functioning as a whole and something is wrong with that family.

Social-Conflict Paradigm

The social-conflict paradigm is also a macro-oriented paradigm. The social-conflict paradigm is one of the ideas of Karl Marx. He believes that social-conflict is unavoidable. It is the driving force to improve and progress to a better society. Human beings compete with each other to acquire the maximum benefits. The social-conflict theory opposes with the structural-functional theory where the social components work together to stabilize the society. A person who poses powers and resources tend to oppress other groups which are lower social class and this resulting in social-conflict. One will also be able to force others to accept his/her views if they have the authority.  Social-conflict not only happens between different classes, it can also occur in various religious, ethnics, cultural, etc. The demand of human beings is endless, when the most basic desires are met, new needs will then emerge. For example, pacers want to have a bike; bicyclists want to have a motorbike; motorcyclists plan to buy a car… The needs and desires of humans are endless caused humans have to work hard every day to fulfil their desires. However, this phenomenon eventually leads to a progressive society because everyone strives to achieve their needs.Study of the Structural Functional Paradigm

Case Study of Social-Conflict Paradigm

A conflict theorist might ask, “Who benefits from the current higher educational system?” The answer, for a conflict theorist attuned to unequal distributions of wealth, is the wealthy. The educational system often screens out poorer individuals, not because they are unable to compete academically, but because they cannot afford to pay for their education. Because the poor are unable to obtain higher education, they are generally also unable to get higher paying jobs, thus they remain poor. The functionalist might say that the function of education is to educate the employees, a conflict theorist might point out that it also has an element of conflict and inequality, favouring one group (the wealthy) over other groups (the poor). Thinking about education in this way helps illustrate why both functionalist and conflict theories are helpful in understanding how society works.

Symbolic-interaction Paradigm

Symbolic-interaction theory focuses on the study of the relationship between the individual and others. It is a micro-level orientation which emphasizes the social interactions between the individuals in some specific situations. As people interact with each other, a person’s self-awareness is the result of the judgement from the surrounding people. The symbolic-interaction theory advocate humans have their own “self”, and because of this “self” people play a “role” of others, and they gain the ability to look at themselves through the eyes of others. If one does not have the ability to interact with the people and society, the social stability cannot be maintained. Because of the shared reality that human created, the human social interaction can be stable, expand and maintained. George Herbert Mead says that symbolic-interaction has three characteristics: It has an explanation on the behaviour of others; there is a definite process, which means one is ready to tell others when they do something; have a prediction on others reaction, which is able to predict what they do will cause what responses from others. This depends on the interaction between two individuals have a shared meaning of the symbol system. Mead sees society as an organized interaction between different individuals, this interactive form of organization depends on the role of the spirit, but also to establish an internal communication process on the basis of the use of meaningful symbols.Study of the Structural Functional Paradigm


Case Study of Symbolic-Interaction Paradigm

Consider applying symbolic interactionism to the marriage. The things such as, commitments between spouses, a white bridal dress, a wedding cake, a wedding ceremony, a wedding band and flowers are the symbols of marriage. People relate some general meanings to these symbols. For certain individuals, they maintain their own perceptions of what meaning are these symbols carrying. For instance, one of the spouses may see their wedding rings as a symbol of “endless love” while the other may just see them as a simple financial expense. Much faulty communication can result from the perceptions of different people on the same events and symbols. Besides, the people choose to marry symbolizes that human beings need a companion for their life. It symbolizes that every individual needs financially, socially, emotionally and physically supports to lead a balanced and steady lifetime.Study of the Structural Functional Paradigm



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