Giddens on Functionalism

Notes from Functionalism apres la lutte in Studies in Social and Political Thought – London, Hutchinson, 1977

Durkheim is described as the most important single influence on functionalism in C20th. The reaction to evolutionism (still implicitly there in Durkheim) marks a shift to anthropology (Radcliffe Brown, Malinowski– p. 97) Against the tracing of origins and towards analysis of social totalities. Parsons was closer to Radcliffe Brown than Malinowski, i.e. a structural functionalism over instrumental functionalism.

See Merton for defence against criticisms of functionalism, he argues a revised functionalism is compatible with dialectical materialism (blimey! p. 100) Merton says diversity of functional options hence change, though inherent, is limited.

“social function refers to observable objective consequences and not to subjective dispositions" (aims, motives, purposes0) p. 99)

Hence functionalism is concerned with outcomes of actions not motives.

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