Structural Functionism of Christmas

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The Structural Functionalism theory explains how different institutions in society have specific roles and functions that contribute to the overall stability of society. This theory looks at the manifest and latent functions of institutions and how dysfunction can affect social systems. The Conflict Theory, on the other hand, views society as a combination of conflicting forces that lead to tension and competition for social and economic resources. Karl Marx believed that capitalism would lead to class inequality and eventually its own destruction. Finally, Symbolic Interactionism looks at how people give meaning to their behavior and how this influences their interactions with others. During Christmas, gift-giving is an example of symbolic interactionism as people place more value on the symbolic meanings of gifts rather than the material benefits exchanged.

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What is the Structural Functionalism of Christmas? In this paper I will discuss Structural Functionalism as well and how it relates to the conflict theory. I also intend to and discuss relevant sociological terms of these theories and how these theories could apply to my favorite holiday which is Christmas. Structural functionalism refers to the distinct structures or institutions that shape a society and each structure has a specific function or role to play in determining the behavior of the society.

There are several key assumptions in Structural Functionalist theory. One of these, is that societies strives towards equilibrium. Another assumption is that institutions are distinct and should be studied on an individual basis. Functionalism interprets each part of society in terms of how it contributes to the stability of the whole society. Functions differentiate among the following terms: manifest function, latent function, and dysfunction. A manifest function is the intended consequence of an institution.

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For example, manifest functions of Christmas for many would be bonding with family members and friends, exchanging gifts, and celebrating their religion. The latent function is the unintended consequence such as an increase in sales of toys at Christmas time. Dysfunctional events lessen the adjustment of a social system. For example, Christmas which is an economic driven holiday whereby you spend money for gifts. The conflict theory is based on a number of important assumptions.

According to these assumptions, society can be viewed as a combination of… of different conflicting forces. The situation like that inevitably ends in conflict. The conflict in the society is also reasoned by the effect of moderate forces. There are two groups of the conflicting forces: custom and conflict forces. The mixture of these forces defines the present pattern of our society. This way of thinking is derived from Karl Marx’s, who saw society as being split into different groups all competing for the same social and economic resources.

Marxism believes in class inequality between different classes in the capitalist system as opposed to Neo-Marxism which believes that different groups compete against each other within the same class. Marx believed that capitalism would eventually lead to internal tensions leading to its own destruction. He also believed that no matter how much money one makes they are still apart of the working class if they work for someone else. An example of conflict theory at Christmas time is limited merchandise which will lead to conflict between customers and retailers.

Symbolic interactionism says that instead of thinking as society in terms of abstract institutions, symbolic interactionist see immediate social interaction to be the place where society exists. People give meaning to their behavior and this is how we interpret other behavior, events, etc. An example of symbolic interactionism during Christmas is gift giving, gifts are more valuable to participants for the symbols involved that for the material benefits exchanged. Utilizing the perspective of symbolic interactionism.

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Structural Functionism of Christmas. (2016, Nov 13). Retrieved from

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