Distinguish Between Functionalist and Conflict Views of Sex Differentiation in Society Essay

Pick one of the following and complete it in detail with references to the textbook material and your own thoughts compiled together as an analysis. Approach the topic from a sociological perspective rather than simply personal opinion. Please make sure to cite AND reference the information in your response from the textbook, following APA format. This means citing the author, date of publication, and page number. Distinguish between functionalist and conflict views of sex differentiation in society. In sociological terms, there are many different ways to view a society.

Of those ways, two are the most prominent – the functionalist theory and conflict theory. In the view of a functionalist, a society is like a living organism in which each part contributes to the survival of the whole (Schaefer, 2008, p. 16). A major part of this theory is that if a certain aspect of social life does not contribute to a society’s survival or stability, it will not be passed from one generation to the next (Schaefer, 2008, p. 16). This, however, does not explain why prejudice, racism and discrimination persist.

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Conflict theory, on the other hand, allows one to see the world in a constant struggle between the privileged (dominant group) and the exploited (subordinate groups), with each fighting over scarce resources (Schaefer, 2008, p. 17). Each perspective maintains a different thought stream when considering sex differentiation. Functionalists maintain that sex differentiation has contributed to overall social stability, stating that in order to function most efficiently, a family needs adults who specialize in particular roles (Schaefer, 2008, p. 04). A division based on gender seems purely convenient, rather than necessary. Functionalists see potential social disorder or at least unknown social consequences, if all aspects of traditional sex differentiation are disturbed (Schaefer, 2008, p. 405).

Conflict theorists do not deny the presence of a differentiation by sex; they contend that the relationship between males and females has been one of unequal power, with men being dominant over women (Schaefer, 2008, p. 405), ooking at social change as occurring only through infighting between social classes. However, conflict theorists believe that no social structure is ultimately desirable if it has to be maintained through the oppression of its citizens (Schaefer, 2008, p. 405). Although functionalist and conflict theories are accepted as separate and unique, and followers of each argue that society follows one or the other, it is my opinion that societies operate under a combination of the two, rather than a single formula, overall.

Both sides acknowledge that it is not possible to change gender roles drastically without dramatic revisions in a culture’s social structure (Schaefer, 2008, p. 405), and both similarly rely upon those who are not as well as off as others to drive social change. Thus, distinguishing between the two is futile. Schaefer, Richard (2008). Racial & Ethnic Groups (11th ed. ). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, USA: Pearson-Prentice/Hall.

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