Monday, September 28, 2009

More Criticisms of Functionalism

Although I have already addressed what I thought the problems with functionalism were, I think it is important to address what was discussed in class as well – just to reinforce my thoughts and close the discussion of functionalist theories.

As mentioned in my previous post, the notion of meritocracy just did not make sense. I discussed how the social class you are born into affects your ability to achieve higher education. This was reinforced in class by discussing the fact that those of higher socioeconomic status are more likely to go to post-secondary education institutions. However, just because one individual went to University after high-school, it does not necessarily mean that they will be of a higher social class that an individual who entered the work force right away. Depending on the degree you obtain, it might be difficult to get a job out of University that pays well.

One problem that I did not think to discuss is the ability to get a job even if the playing field is apparently equal based on education, talent, ability and work ethic. During the time this functionalist perspective of schooling was established, there was a lot of inequality in the states between white people and African American people. Although black individuals achieved levels of education equal to others, it was very difficult for them to get jobs because of their race. This discredits the functionalist perspective of meritocracy. In addition, there was what is referred to as the “glass ceiling” for women in the working world. This basically explains how women could not advance as much as men at their jobs regardless of merit.

Another problem with this theory is apparent when looking at the notion of the “expert society”. According to functionalists, with the many advances in technology, we have moved into a more expert society in which people need more complex education through formal schooling as opposed to learning skills in the home. Because of the advances in society, we would need educated people to fill positions in these expert fields. However, these assumptions were wrong as it has been proven through studies that many of the skills learned in school are not applicable in the future when those individuals are in the work force.

As discussed in class, functionalists are better at describing and identifying patterns than explaining the significance of them. This is good to get some basic information but other theories may be necessary to explain the significance of the findings.

1 comment:

  1. I think you make very valid points in this blog. However, I question if it is not just our society that is messing up Meritocracy. I think that the people in our society that are the string holders (have control) are extreme capitalists and want society to still be based on our parents and not so much our merit.

    I think that meritocracy should be able to work if we had more of a, care for the group, mentality rather than I want my family to be top dog. I think that meritocracy should be the way a society functions. I think about how awesome our society would be if people who were good at the job actually got the job!!! Imagine, we could have a Prime Minister that deserved the job not just had the most money to campaign; we could have a government making GOOD decisions! They would be able to do a good job because they would be the best one for the job.

    I am not saying all the people we have in certain positions are bad, but I definitely think that there are quite a few people who get jobs they don't deserve. George W. Bush, was he the most qualified for that job? Or was his father a huge influence on him getting as far as he did?

    I understand that we don’t live in a perfect society and that everything is not fair, however, sometimes I think that we need to make the effort to make it a little more just. Mr. Runte talked in the beginning of the class about how we have to try to predict what trends are coming, but I think we should also try to correct or fix as much as we can the mistakes of the past.

    I wonder if our society is not the best functioning society. Yes, it is functioning because it would have collapsed otherwise, but maybe it is like a broken down society… upgrades and replacing parts might be what this society needs!



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