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Structural functionalism is a sociological paradigm which addresses what social functions various

elements of the social system perform in regard to the entire system. Social structures are placed at the
centre of analysis and social functions are deduced from these structures. It was developed in the United
Kingdom by social anthropologists Bronislaw Malinowski and Alfred Radcliffe-Brown. (Radcliffe-
Brown is often cited as the founder of Structural Functionalism.)

A Structural Functionalist Approach to Politics

Political scientists Almond & Powell introduced a Structural Functionalist approach to comparing
political systems. Their idea stood in marked contrast to the prevailing approaches in the field of
comparative politics: the State-Society Theory and Dependency Theory. This approach was based on
the view that a political system is made up of several key components, including interest groups, political
parties, and branches of government
This approach regards society as a single unit. Each element or part of it performs a
particular, special function. There is interaction among its parts. It helps in the
maintenance of the equilibrium. Structural functionalism revolves around two
important concepts.
FUNCTION: deals with the consequences involving objectives
STRUCTURE: those arrangements within the system which perform functions. For eg. Political systems
perform many functions. A political party is a structure within it which performs specific functions.

According to davies and lewis, these structures perform functions within the system
which only have meaning within the system. They are dependent on both, the system
and eachother for their activity.
Parsons puts forth four functional imperatives that states that a system must
1. Adapt itself to an environment
2. Achieve collective goals
3. Maintain control of tensions in the system- pattern maintenance and tension
4. Integrate the diverse actions of members of society- integration.