Functional foibles and the analysis of social change

Inquiry 9 (1-4):205 – 214 (1966)
Functional analysis is the major theoretical perspective of contemporary sociology. Although many fruitful studies of social structure have resulted from the application of this perspective, it has been notably sterile in coping with questions of social change. Two major shortcomings of the functionalist view of change are here examined. The first type of shortcoming might be called 'evolutionary hangovers'. Under this heading we may include 'functional ahistoricism' and a 'commitment to progress'. The second major shortcoming refers to weaknesses of functional theory per se — namely, a confusion of causal analysis with functional analysis, a lack of a theory of deviance, and an over-emphasis on stable equilibrium models.
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DOI 10.1080/00201746608601458
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