Social Function

(1) Durkheim theory of the social function

Durkheim theory of social function depict that the society is structured and that every structure has its own purpose, according to Durkheim the social systems have functional use and for this to be effective there must be role allocation whereby all roles must be filled, those who fill the roles must be the best able to perform them, there must be training and that roles must be well played.

Crime and deviance

According to Durkheim the existence of deviance and crime result to the need to have the social control mechanism, the parts of the society are related and if one part does not exist then the society will not function well, therefore the existence of deviance and crimes in the society will result to the need to have a social control mechanism. Therefore according to Durkheim the existence of crime was and is normal as it has a function in the society.

In the case of mark who has been involved in criminal activity it is clear that the society has a mechanism to cater for the crimes, there is the existence of guards and also there is the residential care. These are mechanism in the society to take care for the unlawful in the society. This is according to Durkheim view that crime and deviance in the society is a normal thing and that the parts of the society have a function to play for the proper function of the society.


Social Function

According to Durkheim the society is structured and there exist those roles in the society that are not of much importance to the running of the society, therefore these results into inequality in the society, therefore the issue of inequality and poverty in the society according to Durkheim is a natural thing in the society which is caused by the role importance of individuals.

Inequality in our case study is evident from our case study, the inequality displayed in the case is where mark is the first to sit for a state examination in the family, this is inequality displayed in marks family whereby all the other member have not done any state examination but Mark has sat for one. This is inequality in society which is displayed in terms of education level attained.


Durkheim analysed suicide with the use of social integration among groups, he compared the suicide rate among the Protestants and Catholics. In his research he found out that the Protestants had higher suicide rates than Catholics due to the existence of social integration that existed in the two different groups. In the society today people are more likely to commit suicide if there is weak social integration with the other individual in the society as predicted by Durkheim.

(2) Marx’s theory

Social Function

Karl Marx theory on capitalism discusses the issue of inequality that exists in a capitalist society. According to Marx the society in a capitalist form of society has two groups of people, those who own the means of production and the labourers. According to him the capitalist society is characterised by inequality whereby the bourgeoisies are the ones with wealth and that the labourers work for the owners of the wealth to create wealth. The majority of the people in the society according to Marx are poor because of the capitalist form of society whereby only a few people hold the wealth while others do not have and this is why there is inequality in the society.

Therefore there exist inequality in the society because of the capitalist form of society and the only way to get rid of the problem of inequality is through the adoption of the communist form of society, the communist form of society is characterised by equality whereby the wealth in the society is shared by all members of the society and the means of production are owned by the society as a whole and not by individuals.

For example in the society we live in today the people who hold wealth are few while those who don’t have the wealth are the majority, further those who have the wealth employ those without the wealth and pay them less than they have worked for, this is the capitalist society predicted, however the communist society he proposed has failed in many nations.


Alienation is the state where the individuals in the society are not in control of their lives, alienation of labour will occur whereby in a capitalist society whereby the labourers in a capitalist society will be alienated from their work through the fact that they are not in control of their lives and their actions are determined by the owners of production.

Social Function

In the world we live in today we live in a capitalist form of society, through work we are alienated from the work and the society whereby we are controlled by the capitalist society. The individuals in the society are not in control of the society they live in and this is because of the capitalist society we live in, for example the work determines when we wake up and when we leave work. Therefore the work itself is in control of the individual and the individual is not in control of the work and this is what Marx referred to as alienation.

From our case study it is clear that there is alienation whereby Mark is alienated; this is where he prefers to stay in a residential care where he has irregular contact with his parents. He is alienated in that he cannot have regular contacts with his parents while attending his studies

The role of the economic structure in shaping ideology and consciousness

The economic structure will shape the sort ideology that is set in the society, in a capitalist society the decisions regarding various ideas are made by the owners of production and they are made for the purpose of maximising the profits of the owners and not for the good of the workers, therefore the workers live in a world of false consciousness whereby they are not aware of the motives of the owners of production while the owners of production are the one who consciously make these decision.

For example when labourers are asked to become more productive through increased working hours, this is the aim of the owners of production to increase profits and fail to increase wage

Social Function

rates, the labourers however live in a state of false consciousness and they are not aware of the motives behind such decision.

From the case study it is clear that the ideology to move mark from home to a residential care will lead to a change in his behaviour, this works because he is able to complete his studies, the residential care is an ideology which aids those involved in criminal activity due to influence can be helped not to engage in criminal activity.

(3) Weber’s theory of Rationalization and the dynamics of social change

According to Weber rationality is a characteristic of the modern world that has been formed through social change, rationality simply means the act of optimising on the available options. In the modern world individuals will compare the alternatives available to them and their associated rewards and if the alternative gives high reward and is more likely to occur then the individual is rationally making choices.

Rationality concept of Marx Weber explains why bureaucracies are almost adopted all organisation, bureaucracy is an effective way in which organisations are structured in order for them to become more efficient. An example is where an organisation structure is set to be bureaucratic because it helps organize a large number of people in the production process, help accomplish several tasks at the same time and this is what Weber referred to as rationality which results from social change.

Capitalism and the “protestant ethic"

Social Function

Weber also wrote the protestant ethic and the issue of capitalism, according to Weber he analysis the process how certain individuals have more wealth than the others, according to him protestants invested and the profits they achieved they reinvested the money back into their production process, the protestants did not engage in leisure activities such as drinking and for this reason they become rich and that why we have the capitalist society.

From this concept by Weber it is clear that the Protestants become wealthy through reinvesting their wealth and failing to engage in leisure activities that would lead them to spending their profits, instead they reinvested whatever profits they achieved into their production process and acquired much wealth. From the world we live in today it evident that reinvesting in the profits we gain from our production processes leads to more rewards and profits. For example when one gets employed you become some one who has some wealth, if you reinvest in your education instead of spending the money on leisure activities then it will be highly possible that you will be promoted at the work place and gain even more wealth through higher salaries.


Anthony Gidden(1986) Sociology: a brief introduction to sociology, Pal grave Macmillan