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What are the strenghts and weaknesses of Functionalism?

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One of the strengths of Functionalism is that it asserts that there are purposes for social conditions or facts. For example, under a functionalist point of view the newspaper deliverer and the sewer worker all contribute to the function of the entire unit--without serving these purposes, the social structure would not function properly. One of the weaknesses of this perspective, however, is that some could arguably assert that poverty serves a function in such a society. You can make this argument, but as Durkheim saw "function", he was much more optimistic and may have argued that poverty was more a product of "anomie" than actually serving a function. Another, more general criticism of functionalism is the argument that it is somewhat "naive" in that it assumes that there is consensus: that everyone in the structure holds the same norms and values; that we all essentially believe in and work for the same thing. Many theorists take issue with this component and argue that Western ... more
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