Critics also claim that the perspective justifies the status quo and complacency on the part of society's members.
Functionalism does not encourage people to take an active role in changing their social environment, even when such change may benefit them.
Sociologists today employ three primary theoretical perspectives: the symbolic interactionist perspective, the functionalist perspective, and the conflict perspective.
For example, one of the spouses may see their circular wedding rings as symbolizing “never ending love,” while the other may see them as a mere financial expense.
Much faulty communication can result from differences in the perception of the same events and symbols.
While European functionalists originally focused on explaining the inner workings of social order, American functionalists focused on discovering the functions of human behavior.
Among these American functionalist sociologists is Robert Merton (b.
The pioneering European sociologists, however, also offered a broad conceptualization of the fundamentals of society and its workings.
Their views form the basis for today's theoretical perspectives, or paradigms, which provide sociologists with an orienting framework—a philosophical position—for asking certain kinds of questions about society and its people.
A sociological approach in functionalism is the consideration of the relationship between the functions of smaller parts and the functions of the whole.
Functionalism has received criticism for neglecting the negative functions of an event such as divorce.
Mead (1863–1931) introduced this perspective to American sociology in the 1920s.
According to the symbolic interactionist perspective, people attach meanings to symbols, and then they act according to their subjective interpretation of these symbols.
Sociologists analyze social phenomena at different levels and from different perspectives.