Contemporary Theory

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Contemporary Theory
Merton and Conflict Theory
Robert Merton: Parson’s Student—
friendly critique
Liberal response to "functionalism is conservative"
Not all that exists is functional
1. universalism, unity, indispensability
2. manifest/latent
3. dysfunctional/nonfunctional
4. functional for whom?
5. Net-balance functional
Social structure and anomie
TYPOLOGY OF MODES OF
INDIVIDUAL ADAPTATION
Modes of Adaptation
I. Conformity
II. Innovation
III. Ritualism
IV. Retreatism
V. Rebellion
Cultural Goals
Institutionalized means
+
+
+/-
+
+
+/-
Source: Robert Merton, Social Theory and Social Structure
(Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1957), p. 140
Coser's Functional Theory of
Conflict
- Influence: Weber and Simmel
- Conflict can be functional
- functional analysis of ability of system to
accommodate conflict
Dahrendorf's Conflict Theory
Critique of Parsons: "Out of Utopia" (1958)
– ignores conflict
– cannot explain social change
Weberian theory of political domination
– authorities and subordinates: quasi-groups
– potential for collective action
• stability of collective identity
• resources
• leadership and organization
– society's ability to accommodate conflict
C. Wright Mills: Power Elite
- Authorities in each institution share interest
- work together to maintain status quo
- need for liberal reform
Conflict Theory Models of Interest
Group Politics
Darhendorf's Non-elites
other
factors
Authorities
conflict
Subordinates
other
factors
change
Dahrendorf's Social System
-
Social and
Political
System
Ability to
Accommodate
"class" conflict
+
-
external
threat
Mills' Elites
economic
elites
cultural
elites
social and
political elites
Mills'Social System
-
Social and
Political
System
Ability to
serve elite
interests
+
-
external
threat
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