Functionalism and Stratification and Differentiation

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Functionalists assert that stratification in society is both (appearing in all societies) and desirable (because it carries out important “” which allow society to work properly).
Functionalists start from the that society is harmonious and (peoples position in society is a result of their effort and abilities). They therefore acknowledge that stratification in society involves some but claim that these inequalities are both beneficial and .

Functionalist see stratification as a chain of based on occupations and societies of these occupations. Though stratas are unequally valued and rewarded functionalists argue that all stratas are for society to function - (we may not value dustbin mean very highly but we need them to empty our dustbins!!).

Functionalists like Durkheim and claim that stratification in modern society is different to stratification in past societies. In the past and prestige was fixed at birth - , whereas in meritocratic modern society status is “” through the efforts and qualities of individuals.

For functionalists the overriding “functions” of stratification and differentiation are:

1. To enable society to maintain a common set of - people are rewarded for achievement and effort which reinforces beliefs in such values as equality of and individual freedom. When people see others achieving they are also to strive for themselves further reinforcing societies basic values.
2. Stratification and differentiation results in individuals being allocated different within society. Davis and Moore talked a lot about role (you may remember them from the Education unit last year!). It is important that roles or jobs are ranked in society to provide for people to do important and challenging jobs - this is why a brain surgeon earns more than a bus driver! Stratification and the inequality which comes with it is therefore seen by functionalists as (fair and accepted by society)

who allocated me this bloody role?

Criticisms of Functionalism

By focussing solely on functionalists are unable to satisfactorily explain racial or gender and the inequalities that result other than by saying that these too are natural and legitimate.

Marxists dismiss the fundamental premise of functionalism that society is fair, meritocratic and

There is much in society to suggest that ascribed rather than achieved status is still important.

There is little evidence of the on the importance of various occupations the functionalist imply.