Structural functionalism is a form of functionalism that attempts to explain problematic behaviors in cultures and the ways in which these behaviors are essential to the maintenance and well-being of larger systems. Structural functionalists are concerned with group cohesion and social units working as a part of a whole.

Societal Units

Society and social units are held together by cooperation and order, and these social units are most efficient when all parts of the unit work together for the functionality of society as a whole. Society can be static or involved in an active state of change.


Each part of the social system has an impact upon other parts of the system and can determine the form other systems take. Each social system or unit maintains a boundary with external environments and conflict between social units with other systems or external environments require adaptation.


Tasks and responsibilities are divided amongst members of society to maintain balance and each individual or social unit must work together to create efficiency in the system. These systems are self-reliant and exhibit control of boundaries between individuals and the whole. These systems also exhibit control of the environment and the tendency to change the systems.


Structural functionalism views society on a large scale and pays little attention to the individual in society or personal development. This theory claims that society is responsible for motivating the proper individuals to fill certain positions and to reward the individuals so they maintain a desire to fulfill occupational duties.

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