For example, "we ascribe morale to a group tothe extent that it maintains (its) steadfastness of purpose,maintains its solidarity, its integrity and its will to victoryeven in the face of adversity."
As everyoneknows, the word 'behave' might mean any activity, [p.33] butsometimes it means 'to act with good manners'; the word 'society'might mean the largest social system, but it might also mean the'upper crust.' The sociologist needs some words of everydayspeech which have such an emotive or affect value in ordinaryspeech that they must be re-introduced as formal definitions insociological discourse; 'culture' and 'bureaucracy' are examples.
interactionism or Social Action theory and symbolic-interactionism
sociology of knowledge (or: social constructionism)
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The internet is of interest for sociologists in three views at least: as a tool for research, for example by using online questionnaires instead of paper ones, as a discussion platform (see 'External links' section below), and as a research topic. Sociology of the internet in the last sense includes analysis of online communities (e.g. as found in newsgroups) and virtual communities, organisational change catalysed through new media like the internet as well as societal change at-large in the transformation from industrial to informational society (or to information society).
One question raised in a functional approach is to determine what is functional and what is not, and for whom each of these activities and institutions are functional. If there is no method to sort functional from non-functional aspects of society, the functional model can become tautological – without any explanatory power in that any activity is regarded as functional.
One example of functionalism is inequality. Functionalists generally argue that a certain degree of inequality is functional for the society as a whole, and the society could not operate without a certain degree of inequality. Rewards in the form of income, status, prestige, or power must be provided in order to induce people to carry out the work required of them and get them to prepare for and perform in roles required by society. Recall that Durkheim argued that social inequalities should represent natural inequalities, and if this occurs, the division of labour performs well. Some types of Marxism also have a strong strain of functionalism to them – for example, a Marxist may claim that the function of the working class is to produce surplus value, or the state functions in the interests of the bourgeoisie.
4. Interdependence. Since society is composed of different parts, and the proper operation of these parts is necessary to the smooth operation of society as a whole, the interdependence of the parts is an important feature of functional analysis. The roles taken on by people, and the institutions and organizations of society are all interdependent. A change in any one part affects others, requiring other parts to take account of the changes, modify its actions, and adapt to any changes necessary. While most sociological approaches recognize the interdependence of the elements of a society, the functionalist approach tends to regard these elements of society (individuals or institutions) as having particular functions to perform. For example, Parsons argues that each individual occupies a status or position within a structure. "Status and role tend to go together in what Parsons calls the 'status-role bundle.'" (Grabb, p. 101). These are the ways in which individuals fill the structures of society. So long as roles are performed, the structures function smoothly, and it is individuals carrying out their functions and roles within these structures that make the structures work.
6. Consensus – Norms and Values. The functional approach tends to argue that there is consensus within the social system. Individual behaviour is governed by social norms or rules that are generally accepted and agreed upon. These are like Durkheim's social facts or moral regulation in that they govern behaviour, and while they are coercive, they are also generally agreed upon. These norms and values are consistent with the equilibrium state of society, or normal state of affairs. There are aspects of these norms that return the society to a normal state of affairs in the case of a disturbance – for example, sanctions, punishment, social approval, and social disapproval.
Functional analysis does not emphasize conflict, does not consider conflict to be an integral part of the social world, and generally does not consider change to be dramatic but rather to be evolutionary. While the writers who take this approach often advocate reforms, these may be minimal, thus providing support for existing structures. At the same time, the structural functional approach is in the tradition of western liberalism – arguing for equality of opportunity, a liberal democracy, and social reforms that would encourage these. Politically, this approach has often been used as a means of countering radical reforms, at other times it has contributed to more modest reforms.
Unlike the other major theoretical approaches, the structural functional model comes from a variety of authors. Usually it is associated with Talcott Parsons, although the single most famous article is a short summary article on social stratification by Kingsley Davis and Wilbert Moore. Robert Merton is another well known sociologist who provided some important structural functional theoretical statements. All of these were sociologists who were from the United States and spent most of their academic life there. As a result, this approach is often associated with sociology in the United States.