What Is the Functionalist Social Theory?

The functionalist social theory is a perspective within sociology that focuses on how society functions as a whole. It examines the interrelationships between individuals, groups, and institutions and how these contribute to the overall stability and functioning of society.

Key Concepts

The functionalist theory is based on several key concepts:

Main Assumptions

The functionalist perspective operates on several main assumptions:

Contributions and Criticisms

The functionalist social theory has made significant contributions to our understanding of society. It emphasizes the interdependence of different parts and highlights the functions they perform. This perspective has been influential in studying various social institutions and their roles in maintaining social order.

However, the functionalist theory also faces criticisms. Critics argue that it tends to focus on the stability and harmony of society while neglecting issues of inequality, conflict, and power dynamics. It may overlook the experiences and perspectives of marginalized groups in society.


The functionalist social theory offers valuable insights into how society functions as a complex system. By examining the interrelationships between individuals, groups, and institutions, we can better understand the mechanisms that contribute to social order and stability. However, it is important to critically analyze this perspective and consider alternative theories to gain a comprehensive understanding of society.