Essay Example on Structural Functionalism also known as Functionalism

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Structural Functionalism also known as Functionalism is a theory credited to Emile Durkheim for developing This is a theory that seeks to explain social organization and change in terms of the roles performed by different social structures phenomena and institutions Structural Functionalism is theorized that society is a network of interdependent parts that all play a contributing role and work together to secure equilibrium and stability The different parts that serve a function in creating a well balanced society include family religious educational and government institutions In Structural Functionalism deviant behavior in society such as crimes serves a function In this theory it is believed that if deviant behavior did not serve a social function or role then it wouldn't exist because it is a universal occurrence Deviance is punished and labeled in a society practicing Structural Functionalism as a way to reaffirm the morals and what is considered normal of society members It shows the members of society what is acceptable or good and what is unacceptable or bad The Social Conflict Paradigm is rooted in Karl Marx's ideas about power and class the Paradigm searches to explain social organization and change in terms of conflict built into social relationships Unlike Structural Functionalism which emphasizes interdependent parts of society that works to function as a whole The Social Conflict Paradigm emphasizes the root of conflict in society and what divides people It seeks to explain the inevitable conflicts that arise from the way relationships and social institutions are structured and inequality between different social classes genders and ethnic or racial groups Deviance in 



The Social Conflict Paradigm is different than Structural Functionalism in Emile Durkheim's theory deviance is defined and punished in order to be used as an example of what is unacceptable behavior and to remind people of their morals and what is normal In Karl Marx's theory the dominant class or group in society can deem behavior's deviant or a crime simply because they have the power to do so For example street crimes such as mugging or carjacking which are more likely to be committed by lower class people are clearly considered criminal behavior and are punished White collar crimes on the other hand are labeled differently They are more likely to be committed by the upper class those of which who have the power to create and define laws are often apart of this class are less likely to be clearly defined and punishable Unlike both The Social Conflict Paradigm and Structural Functionalism Symbolic Interactionism considers the individual self and society as a whole as products of the social interactions based on language and other symbols Symbolic Interactionism focuses on Microsociology as opposed to The Social Conflict Paradigm and Structural Functionalism which both focus on Macrosociology and society as a whole George Herbert Mead is credited with creating the approach for this theory he argued that people obtain a sense of who they are through interaction with other members of society and they do so through symbols Symbols can include words gestures and even tattoos

Deviance is labeled very differently in this theory it focuses less on the consequences of committing a crime and rather how the rest of society will label a person a criminal and how that will affect the way the rest of society sees and interacts with that person It also questions how a person sees him or herself after being labeled a criminal how that person will act and can a person become a deviant simply because they believe that they are or vice versa In the United States I believe that Karl Marx's theory of The Social Conflict Paradigm is present in our Judicial System Although Structural Functionalism is ideal and is present in many cases I do not believe that all crimes or deviance is punished equally between the different social classes our society has The Social Conflict Paradigm theorizes that deviant crimes committed by the upper class are punished less or not at all compared to street crimes committed by people of a lower class An example of this in our country is Michael Milken who was an American financier and philanthropist who was indicted in 1989 for racketeering and fraud He was accused of multiple white collar crimes such as tax evasion concealing the real owner of a stock and illegal insider trading Michael Milken pleaded guilty to six counts of tax violations and securities along with conspiracy to commit multiple white collar felonies He was charged millions of dollars in fines and sentenced to 10 years although his sentence was dramatically reduced to 2 years He was released after serving only 22 months in a minimum security federal work camp Carjacking which is considered a street crime and often committed by the lower class is considered a felony and can lead to a sentence of up to 30 years and at the least a judge must sentence the offender to 21 months in prison which is one month shorter than Michael Milken s sentence There is a clear gap in equality between how these crimes are punished Statistically white collar crimes are reported or punished less than street crimes and often sentences are lesser or more lenient than a street crime sentence


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