Although Sprague and Collins explanation of the canonization of classical theory is important to the development of the sociological world, I would like to talk about Talcott Parsons theory of structural functionalism. Parsons theory of structural functionalism from what I was able to understand is the system from which society is able to function. By this I mean that our society is governed by a structure of rules and ideas this structure fits into Parsons AGIL which is a collection of functions that systems must have in order to work: adaptation, goal attainment, integration and latency. Adaptation is based on how a society adapts to an environment to meet its needs. Goal attainment from what Ritzer explains is formed by the polity or political aspect of a society. Integration is the level of solidarity that a system or society has and latency is related to “pattern maintenance” and it is the part that makes sure that a society norms are followed and if they change that those changes are integrated. Structural functionalism sets people in hierarchies and this theory makes sure that everyone has a purpose but the individual purpose of each person is not meaningful if not the society as a whole is meaningful to structural functionalism. Parsons action system, which is the big picture is broken into four subsystems those being: behavioral organism, cultural system, personal system and social systems which will be the focus of my example. It is important to understand structural functionalism because it is theory that claims that societies that meet all of the requirements and perform as the system is structured should be able to be self-sustainable. This is only true if the society has structured norms which everyone follows with some flexibility for deviance, although the individual is not the point in the system it is how the people learn to operate to form the system and how it adapts to the environment it is in. Like any theory Parson makes many assumptions that can exclude many things like for example he doesn’t account for how people make change and history which may have most to do with how a system learns to adapt and it may not explain conflict.
Also, what structural functionalism does is form hierarchy that is the basis of how we are stratified into the system and keeps it from falling apart. According to Parson it is necessary for people to know where they fit into the social system because they system functions on every part of this system being maintained in motion. In other words every piece of the machine needs to be in place or it will fall apart. If we were to use our society and how we look at the workplace we can see that this relationship is accurate. We all have those who have higher titles like managers and CEO’s and if we were to step away from our jobs then there would be that moment where they system would be some confusion and then it would collect itself and continue as it was. I think that because Parsons doesn’t account for individual parts of the system that this system can be self-sustainable we account for it as being replaceable. If a part of the machine is missing then we just get another part and replace it and the machine is up and running again.