Understanding Functionalism Functionalism is sometimes also referred to as consensus theory as it believes that society functions better when there is agreement (consensus) among everyone. Functionalism is a structuralist theory. This means that it sees the individual as less important than the social structure or organisation of society. This is because the individual is produced by society and therefore society is most important. Functionalists study the role of different parts of society (social institutions) in bringing about social order. People need to be taught core values of their society and to internalise them so they become shared. The end result of this is value consensus (society agrees on what the important values and standards of behaviour are). There are basic functional pre-requisites (basic needs) that need to be met if society is to survive. How does Functionalism view society as being similar to the body? Functionalists see society as a complex system made up of different parts that all work together to keep the whole system going (organic analogy) THE BODY SOCIETY Every part of the body has a function which helps to keep the body alive and healthy. Every part of society helps to keep society going e.g. the family helps bring up the next generation. The human body grows and develops. Societies gradually develop and change. All of the parts of the body link together into 1 big system. All of the parts of society work together and depend on each other – they are interdependent. The body fights disease Society has mechanisms to deal with problems when they occur e.g. the police and legal system .