Describe and evaluate the effectiveness of sociological theories in explaining the role of the public services in contemporary society.
Since the beginning of time (Giddens, 2009), human kind has constantly striven to reflect and improve their past behaviour and conducts, with aspiration that their knowledge will help create a better society. Charles Wright Mills an American Sociologist refers to this as ‘Sociological imagination’ highlighting how humans empirically link past events to present day situations, affiliating Giddens(2009) suggestion that humans need theories for clarification and an understanding on why the world and the social structure is like it is. In the words of Mills ...view middle of the document...
Sociologists Comte and Durkheim theoretical perspectives on society are based on functionalism. Both Comte and Durkheim (Giddens,2009) believed that for a society to be prosperous, a study into the different communities and institutions , which are the essences for a social system existence, requires that they all share the same basic values and opinions ( moral consensus) on social norms. Functionalists argue that without a moral consensus. Societies would not be able to maintain order or stability .Comte and Durkheim (cited in Grinnell, 2000) compared the social system with an organic analogy; the body does not simply rely on the heart, but for all organs to work together in maintaining the body’s survival. In association that values and norms, which form the consensus creates social equilibrium .However, without the moral consensus (other organs) social equilibrium (heart) would no longer be in existence. Therefore society as a whole would dissolve.
Marcosociololgy (Marco) is used to analysis functionalism, which incorporates studies based on societies on a larger scale rather than on individuals.
Sociologist Robert Merton views functionalism on and around Durkheim’s theories. However, Merton does detect a flaw in Durkheim’s theory on how religion plays a large part in society’s core values. Merton identified manifest and latent functions and introduced dysfunctions. To illustrate Merton’s functions and how relevant they are in today’s society. The current moral panic on terrorism (BBC News, 2009) that has been accentuated by the media over the last few years could be considered as prime examples.
The religious views and practices of Jews and Muslims (Danielpipies,2005) influence their society consensus. Common practices and traditions that both religions share for instance is that women should be fully clothed while in public and that no skin must shown, meat should be prepared in a certain way and under no circumstances should pork or alcohol be consumed. The term manifest function maybe could be associated with this statement. Therefore the traditions which shape Jewish and Muslim communities can sometimes not be understood or recognized by other social groups in the social system. An observation that could be possibly is linked to Merton’s lantent function theory.
The British Government (BBC News, 2008) over the last few years have tried to introduce and implement diversity policies in the public sector, in order to maintain a functional system within all social communities. In spite of the Government plans for social equilibrium, the recent wars in the Middle East have engaged social conflicts causing widespread social divisions and exclusion within the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. Merton’s explanation to this could be identified as the characteristics of dysfunction.
Sociologists (who are also known as conflict theorists) base their theories in accordance to Marxism, believing that the main flaw with functionalism...