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Meet the Perspectives: Functionalism (Part 3)

Sarah Best

15th November 2016

Out-Dated Or Still Relevant?

Does functionalism still have a place in modern society? Can it still be relevant considering how much has changed in society in the last 60 plus years?


  • The theory is largely positive about most things in society, whereas some other sociological perspectives are quick to criticise, functionalists take a consensus approach (in society everyone is working towards the common good).
  • It explains the importance of the various institutions such as education and the family, and the theory provides a clear structure between them.


  • It fails to consider individual differences within society – not all societies look or act alike.
  • It assumes that everything in society is largely positive – what about people who are not working towards the common good? What about people who commit crimes? Although, functionalists broadly recognise that to some extent crime is not only inevitable but can have some value in society.
  • Finally, functionalism can be criticised for having a deterministic view. Human begins are viewed like puppets whose actions are dictated via a puppet master, in this case, the social systems within society.

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Sarah Best

Sarah is a passionate full-time Head of Sociology and Psychology and has worked in a variety in schools in the UK, and she is currently working in a British international school. She is keen to develop and boost the profile of both subjects.

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