organizations. Kinship will be explored in the next tutorial of this series, whilenon-kinship factors are considered in this one.
Functions of Social Groups and Institutions
In studying any society, we can observe various social groups and institutions,each with its specific functions. It does not matter whether the institutions arerelated to business, religion, the legal system, or families. They all havefunctions. For instance, the primary function of a legal system is likely to bethe maintenance of the social order in society. The functions of differentinstitutions may overlap and are likely to be interrelated in complex ways.Complicating our understanding of them is the fact that any institution is likelyto have multiple functions, some of which are more obvious than others. Intrying to discover and understand them, it is useful to think of some of thefunctions as being manifest and others latent.
are thosethat are obvious and easily discovered even by strangers. In contrast,
are those that are less apparent and more difficult to uncover. Ifyou ask people what the functions of their institutions are, most will describethe manifest ones. They may not have even thought of all of the latent ones.However, to get a full understanding of a society and its culture, it is essentialto comprehend the latent functions as well. In order to discover them, it isoften necessary to observe their effects because people are often unaware ofthem.
Let us see how good you are at comingup with the functions of a common NorthAmerican icon -- the Golden Gate Bridge.What is the manifest function of thispublicly funded and owned bridge?What are some possible latent functions?
Click the button to seehow well you did.
Golden Gate Bridge(San Francisco)