What is Functionalist Theory and Comte’s Three stages

Society has been seen thoroughly in three views viz. Functionalist Theory, Conflict Theory, and Interactionism Theory. Our society has emerged time to time from different perspective of sociologists. Functionalist Theory was the first theory in the world which was broadly studies and researched by sociologists like Parson, Kingsley Davis, Moore etc.

William James

You can guess the amount of impact it had the way it dominated other theories. Its impact suppressed the views Marx presented in Conflict Theories.

What is Functionalist Theory?

William James is called the founder of Functionalist Theory. This theory agreed with the point that society is an integration of so many parts which always work in a way that the society is always in an equilibrium. Herbert Spencer, Emile Durkheim, and Talcott Parsons work are highly dignified in Functionalist Theory. They further put a point that it is a Structural Functionalist Theory in which people, nature, economy, political party and every small aspect of society comes together and work properly in their respective roles to always keep society in a form that is harmonious and hardly affected by anything.

It always studied the macro perspective of a society and did not bother to see any negative aspect of society which needs to be changed. It was way too positive driven perspective which neglected the amount of change one should see and bring.

Anthony Giddens in 1984 tried to make understand everyone society arrangement through biology concept that just like our body is an organization and its internal organs should function well to keep that organization in a good condition. Just like for the better functioning of our society, its elements like human beings, family, political party’s, production rate and economy should function properly to keep the society intact.

Functionalist Theories agreed with the point that stratification is not a demeaning factor for our society. Sociologists put up their point of stratification as the classification done because of their respective achieved or ascribed status which is their right only. Kingsley Davis and Moore were the sociologists who said that Stratification not existing in the society is a myth. According to them, they were given a payback on the amount of work they complete for the society. It was mainly the most efficient people taking up the best roles for the betterment of society which accounts for Stratification and it is nowhere bad to have this system.

Functionalist Theory also sounded like the Theory of Positivism. August Comte researched a lot in this theory and even asked to study Sociology as a different subject on a whole which was in first place studied as different subjects like Political Science, Economics, and psychology.

Comte researched and agreed that sociology is nothing but three-stage development which is as follows

  1. Theoretical Stage- A stage where people believed that everything happens due to the will of supernatural powers. The religious views were often regarded as fewer efforts from the human side and having a superstition attitude towards everything. This stage was at the beginning of the human story.
  2. The Metaphysical Stage-A stage where society seems to develop changes of views towards supernatural powers.
  3. Scientific Stage-A stage where society emphasized on the work of the scientist. It was a technical approach stage where the application of technologies was observed.
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