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Compare and contrast the functionalist conflict and interactionist perspective on education

Tinotenda Kanengoni Compare and contrast the Functionalist and Interactionist perspectives to conflict [25 marks] Conflict is either positive or negative. However people assume that conflict is always negative. People inherently are different, and conflict simply happens those differences come to light. Equipped with a conflict management process, people can explore and understand those differences, and use them to interact in a more positive, productive way.

The presence of conflict requires people to manage it and reach agreement. The paradox of conflict is that it is both the force that can tear relationships apart and the force that binds them together.

This dual nature of conflict makes it an important concept to study and understand. Differentpeople have different views in the studying conflict. This paper compares and contrasts the Functionalist and Interactionist perspectives to conflict. Functionalist perspective is having purpose in society and interactionist perspective means meaning derived through interaction with other individuals.

The interactionist perspective focuses on the concrete details of what goes on among individuals in everyday life. Interactionists study how we use and interpret symbols not only to communicate with each other, but also to create and maintain impressions of ourselves, to create a sense of self, and to create and sustain what we experience as the reality of a particular social situation.

From this perspective, social life consists largely of a complex fabric woven of countless interactions through which life takes on shape and meaning. Conflict happens sometimes through interaction.

Miles 1980 took a functional approach to conflict, viewing it in terms of how its presence inspired such things as feedback, coalition formation, growth and innovation, which revealed something about both the centrality of conflict in organizational life and the complexity associated with its management, making it absolutely essential to understand the context in which organizational conflict occurs and the variety of techniques available for use in its management.

The functionalist views conflict as that it helps people to establish identity and independence, for example, Zimbabweans went through conflicts, the first and second Chimurenga. Conflicts, especially at earlier stages help assert personal identity as separate from the aspirations, beliefs and behaviours of those around. Both perspectives can be viewed as two faces of the same society. For example, one of the basic problems facing a non-white individual in the functional model is that of high alienation and loss of identity.

However, racial conflict, with its ideological apparatus and action system, functions to alleviate alienation and to facilitate an ethnic identity. Group solidarity is enhanced, group boundaries are clarified, and the linkage between the individual and the group is strengthened through personal commitment and social action. In time, the group identity can be extended to the larger system through communication; the individual is exposed to larger social networks and to national core values Kitano, 1985.

Farley 2000 provides two observations regarding the nexus between the conflict perspectives. He contends that a synthesis of the two theories is possible.

The Functions of Education

Both perspectives are partially correct and society might operate according to both perspectives. Order and stability might exist in the presence of extreme income inequality. It is possible, for example that a given institution might serve to make society efficient while at the same time serving the interests of the dominant elite. This may cause conflict. Societies go through cycles of stability and conflict.

Under different circumstances, people behave differently. At one point in time a society may be stable and orderly, where minorities are able to get ahead through hard work.

At another point, however, society might be characterized by disorder and conflict where minorities might advance only via protest and rebellion Farley, 2000. The Functionalist perspectiveof social inequality usually is the belief that "inequality is not only inevitable but also necessary for the smooth functioning of society.

Davis-Moore 1954functionalists believe that all societies have important jobs and tasks that need to be carried out and that certain positions must be filled to do so.

Compare and contrast the functionalist perspective with the conflict perspective.

The interactionist view assumes that conflict is necessary to increase performance. The interactionist approach encourages managers to maintain anappropriate level of conflict, enough to keep projects self-critical, viable, creative, and innovative.

The interactionist perspective tries to explain human behavior and human society by examining the ways that people interpret the actions of others and act in terms of meanings.

  1. Following functionalist logic, if a social institution exists, it must serve a function. A key feature of this duality is that a dysfunctional system, such as crime, may also be functional in that it heightens awareness of shared...
  2. White girls who had been in the smaller classes were less likely to have a teenage birth than white girls who had been in the larger classes. An interactionist perspective, would contradict the other camps on both of these points.
  3. Perhaps teachers with more experience favor smaller classes and are able to have their principals assign them to these classes, while new teachers are assigned larger classes.
  4. The students are now in their early thirties, and many aspects of their educational and personal lives have been followed since the study began.

Attachment of meanings to everyday life situations differ from one person to the other and these may cause conflicts. What is viewed as conflict by another group is not conflict to another group. In the interactionist view, an organization or group with no conflict is more likely to become static, non-responsive, inflexible and unadaptable. The interactionist view states that a minimum level of conflict is actually beneficial for the group, because it maintains a certain level of creativity, self-evaluation and competition among the individuals.

All these things result in increased group performance, more creative solutions to problems and better outcomes.

  1. Whether this process works as well as it should is an important issue, and we explore it further when we discuss school tracking later in this chapter. Structural functionalism holds that a society is essentially like a living organism.
  2. But conflict theorists say that tracking also helps perpetuate social inequality by locking students into faster and lower tracks.
  3. This is a derivative of Social Problems. In this way, they are presumably prepared for their later station in life.
  4. Conflict can potentially have serious consequences if it causes the disruption of society, for example deaths of many during the liberation wars in Africa.
  5. Farley 2000 provides two observations regarding the nexus between the conflict perspectives. A systematic analysis 7th ed.

However, do note that even the interactionist view does not claim that every type of conflict is beneficial and healthy. It clearly states that only the functional and constructive forms of conflict help the group, while the dysfunctional or destructive forms of conflict should be avoided [Blumer, 1969].

The interactionist view on organizational conflict suggests that a minimum level of conflict is actually beneficial for the organization and its groups. It makes the individuals more effective and self-critical, and it makes the group more adaptable, responsive and flexible to change.

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During the turbulent 1960s, functionalism was often called "consensus theory," criticized for being unable to account for social change or structural contradictions and conflict, including inequalities related to race, gender, class, and other social factors that are a source of oppression andconflict.

Common to all conflict approaches are the following points of emphasis: All social relations in all social systems reveal inequalities in the distribution of valuable resources. Tension between those with and those without resources is inevitable because those with resources have an interest in keeping them and those without resources have an interest in securing the resources. Such tensions will, in the long run, erupt into conflict, for example the Sudan issue of oil.

With conflict will come a changein social relations and in the structure of a social system. Human organization is thus in a state of constant tension, with inequalities in social relationships creating conditions of conflict and change. It is less well-adapted to understanding individual discrimination because it ignores the inequalities that cause tension and conflict. Functionalists analyze social institutions in terms of the function they play. In other words, to understand a component of society, one must ask, "What is the function of this component?

How does it contribute to social stability? Educated people know their rights and also avoid conflicts, hurting each other.

Compare and contrast Functionalist and Marxist theories of education

By delineating the functions of elements of society, of the social structure, we can better understand social life. Education helps societies understand conflicts and their effects. Functionalists also employ the concept of dysfunction to refer to the effects or undesirable consequences of conflict.

Functionalism has been criticized for downplaying the role of individual action, and for being unable to account for social change. In the functionalist perspective, society and its institutions are the primary units of analysis. Individuals are significant only in terms of their places within social systems i. Some critics also take issue with functionalism's compare and contrast the functionalist conflict and interactionist perspective on education to attribute needs to society.

They point out that, unlike human beings, society does not have needs; society is only alive in the sense that it is made up of living individuals. By downplaying the role of individuals, functionalism is less likely to recognize how individual actions may alter social institutions. Critics also argue that functionalism is unable to explain social change because it focuses so intently on social order and equilibrium in society. Following functionalist logic, if a social institution exists, it must serve a function.

Institutions, however, change over time; some disappear and others come into being. The focus of functionalism on elements of social life in relation to their present function, and not their past functions, makes it difficult to use functionalism to explain why a function of some element of society might change, or how such change occurs.

For a functionalist, anything is a problem if it threatens the smooth and efficient running of society. Conflict of most kinds is seen as problematic because conflict threatens consensus.

Conflict can potentially have serious consequences if it causes the disruption of society, for example deaths of many during the liberation wars in Africa. One example is of the Chibondo massacre in Zimbabwe. The cause of social problems for a functionalist lies predominantly in the characteristics of the disadvantaged group. For example, functionalist might argue that a minority group lacks the necessary skills that would yield the greatest rewards in society. Or, perhaps the group in question has a culture that is incompatible with the dominant culture.

In either case, the burden of change is placed mostly on the disadvantaged group. Functionalism relies on the metaphor that society is a body or a living system Rigney, 2001.

Just as a human organism consists of many parts e. Functional analysis proceeds not by examining the details of specific interactions but by looking at the society as a whole and determining how it maintains itself. If some institution or pattern exists, these analysts assume it probably serves some good purpose. Not every part of society is said to be functional, however.

Functionalistslook for different functional components. Functionaliststheory take it for granted that conflicts exists as an objective entity out there in society and that it is primarily itsprerogative to define, identify, and explain it.

An interactionist perspective, would contradict the other camps on both of these points. As a result, this perspective tends to set aside many of the issues that concern functionalists theorists.

Instead, attention is focused on more basic and arguably prior issues, such as how equal and unequal states of affairs come to be defined, explained, and acted toward as consequential features of various social worlds [Collins, 1971]. According to interactionist, society is human beings interacting. Human beings act based on the meanings that things have for them and nothing is inherently equal or unequal.

People act based on their interpretations of inequality, if and whenthe issue is a relevant concern to them and equal and unequal situations are defined as such during the course of interaction.

Compare and contrast functionalist and Marxist perspectives on the family

The meaning of inequality is handled through an active, interpretive process. Terms such as inequality and unequal are conceptual resources that people use creatively to make sense of the world around them [Schwalbe, 2000]. By orienting to its field of inquiry as meaningful social conduct, interactionists tend to leave themselves more open to discovery Blumer 1969.

They have not colored the landscape from the outset as already body-like. They are thus in a somewhat better position to investigate, rather than assume, what the world looks like to people who are actually living it. The perspective recognizes that people cannot interpret reality any way they want—that the physical and social world out there is somewhat obdurate. Nevertheless, interactionism does suggest that the most basic place to begin learning about people is to study how they define their own situations, even if those understandings seem strange or unrealistic.