The folllowing sample essay on Functionalist Perspective On Unemployment discusses it in detail, offering basic facts and pros and cons associated with it. To read the essay’s introduction, body and conclusion, scroll down.
Their studies include human behavior in many social contexts such as social interaction, social institutions and organization, social change and development (Abraham). Because of the broad spectrum of social circumstances that are studied, unemployment is an issue in which sociologists thrive. Conflict in the areas of age, race, gender, and disability is common among the employed as well as the unemployed.
From a sociological perspective, unemployment can be studied through both the Functionalist Theory and Conflict Theory.
It also touches upon the results of unemployment in societies and institutions such as family, education, government, and health. Unemployment affects almost everyone to some extent in their lives, and the need to understand how to deal with the issue is becoming more and more important to society.
One sociological perspective on unemployment can be taken from the famous Functionalist Theory. Functionalists believe everything serves a specific function in our society and these functions need to be understood (Kendall 23). The theorist behind functionalism is Durkheim. Durkheim’s concern was how to preserve society.
The basis for social order was not economic, but rather moral. In a functionalist society, everyone has a role and a purpose. In order for this theory to be successful, the individuals in a society need to believe everything is in their best interest.
In this modern age, this seems nearly impossible. Looking at unemployment from a realist’s perspective, one might say that the population in the world is too high for every individual to serve a specific purpose, when so many businesses and agencies require similar talent among their employees, making them almost interchangeable with one another.
While that is a harsh approach and contradicts the functionalist theory, it does not entirely count it out. Functionalism states that everything does have its own function in society, but each of these functions are up for interpretation. In terms of unemployment, however, functionalism does not account for any changes that are made in society. Functionalists believe that unemployment serves a purpose in society and that it plays its own part. For all those who are or have been unemployed, it is hard to see how it can possibly be good for society.
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Unemployment creates so much misery and further increases the problem of stratification. Those in the underprivileged class have to rely on government handouts, which only creates further poverty as those people struggle to make ends meet. This in turn affects the family structure by adding extra money pressures. Perhaps that’s the functionalist point though. It maintains that there will always be someone to take the menial jobs that others don’t want. The lower classed people will do the jobs others won’t.
We need the divisions to make sure there are people to cover all types of places in society…and that is the functionalist perspective. Another sociological perspective on unemployment is the Conflict Theory. Conflict theory is a body of ideas including Marxism. Marxism claims that economics determines the nature of society; its politics, religion, law, and culture. Unlike the idea of functionalism, there is a conflict of interest. People have different goals and purposes. They will use whatever means to gain this, even to the detriment of others in their society in order to attain their specific goals (Kendall 24).
The idea of Marxism supports the theory that those with more power and money have the ability to gain a higher level of services, such as education and healthcare, therefore creating a greater level of stratification in society. Stratification, by definition, is the division in a society based on class, wealth, or other differentiating factors (Social stratification). Stratification, particularly in the workforce, creates a tremendous amount of conflict because those who do not have the means to get the services they need, turn to other deviant methods to get what they need.
Conflict theorists see unemployment as more evidence of those in a powerful or privileged position taking advantage of others. Power is the emphasis is an employment situation. While employed you have a certain amount of power, both over your work environment and your own life. Once a you become unemployed, however, you become powerless, desperate for any source of an income. Once in this position, an individual is likely to take a job which is below their capabilities and for less pay. The difference in class and standing continues to increase.
Those with money have the luxury of waiting for a job that strikes their interest, not just a job to make minimum wage. They can wait until an appropriate job comes up or they can further their education to improve their position even more. Economically, the world is entering into a new phase in which fewer workers will be needed to produce the goods and services for the global population. For most of the modern era, people’s worth has been determined by the value of their labor and skills.
However, life has changed, globalization and feminism have had a huge impact on the work environment all around the world. Technology has also made many jobs easier, yet very, very similar. Because of these changes, unemployment has become an issue all around the globe. The government views the unemployment situation as an individual problem. From the government’s perspective, unemployment is due to the lack of training of the individual. However, because of this, more and more training is being provided, particularly within the education system.
While education is key in finding a career and having a successful life, it is creating a lot of qualified people for positions that don’t currently exist. Society needs to look at why the positions are non-existent rather than assuming it is the individuals’ fault. Unemployment affects our society in so many ways. The four main institutions it affects are family, education, health and government. Unemployment places added financial and mental strain on any family. The lack of income can cause many families to have to live without the basic necessities that we take for granted.
They then need to turn to welfare agencies in order to survive. Lack of income also means children often have to miss out on school activities and sports programs as the family budget can’t stretch any further. This economic strain can cause breakdown in both the individual and the individual’s family. Circumstances such as this can turn in domestic violence incidents, alcoholism, gambling, and even suicide. Unemployment has such a wide range of affects on family life. When someone is hit with the burden of unemployment, they may lose their standing as both a provider and member of their community.
Each of these aspects further increases the impact of unemployment. Unemployment also affects education. The comparison between public schools and private schools is already a hotly argued issue. It is a struggle though to pay for books, uniforms, excursions, camps and other school activities. If unemployment suddenly becomes a factor, the issue becomes even harder. If a family’s children are currently enrolled in a private educating system and the parents suddenly become unemployed, meeting the financial demands is really going to begin to take a toll.
Changing schools in general is a difficult thing for a child to go through, and for a student who has been enrolled in a private education their entire life, switching from the curriculum of a private school to that of a public school could be quite a shock to them. It could be especially difficult if a child is in a special school that is there to mold uniquely to the child’s special needs. If a family can no longer provide for their child to receive that specific education with certain accommodations, it’s difficult to determine of any public school will be a good fit for the child in question.
Government candidates tend to address the issue rather frequently, discussing the “unemployment rate” in many of their speeches. Unfortunately, however, the unemployment rate does not accurately portray just how many people are out of work; only those who are registered as looking for work. The government provides welfare and training for the unemployed but fails to see the bigger picture. The government also creates stratification by having different payments and services for different races, rather than basing services provided on an individual needs basis.
Lastly, the health system is hit hard by unemployment especially with the drop in bulk billing. Many unemployed people who cannot afford a designated family doctor or medical practice tend to simply use hospital emergency rooms when illness or health risks become evident, causing overwhelming business in the emergency department. Related to unemployment, there is a higher risk of illnesses, both mental and physical, as well as suicide. This creates a tremendous amount of stress on the medicare and health systems.
Low income families or unemployed individuals cannot afford to have private health insurance, so are therefore do not receive all the help that they need. A system is being created where people are leaving illnesses and injuries until they are quite serious because they cannot afford to see a medical specialist. In conclusion, unemployment plays are major part in our society. The idea that unemployment is an individual problem due to lack of skills, only increases the problem. The idea that who we are is depicted by what we do as a job, creates further stratification of our society.
Long-term unemployment has been shown to be one of the most important contributors to domestic violence and other forms of crime, as well as psychological illness and suicide. Whether we look at unemployment from a functional or conflict perspective, there doesn’t seem to be a right or wrong answer. In order to get a better idea of the situation, both perspectives need to be examined. It is then that we can look at possible ways of dealing with the issue. There will always be unemployment due to changes in the environment. If anything, for this reason further insight into how society deals with unemployment is extremely necessary.
Stratification is a principal aspect of the evolution of a society’s social identity, when this is combined with the misfortune of unemployment, dysfunction and dissatisfaction become consequences.
Works Cited Abraham, John H. “Sociology Encyclopedia Topics | Reference. com. ” Homepage | Reference. com. 27 July 2008. Web. 15 Oct. 2010. . Kendall, Diana Elizabeth. “The Sociological Perspective. ” Sociology in Our times. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2011. 2-36. Print. “Social_stratification | Define Social_stratification at Dictionary. com. ” Dictionary. om | Find the Meanings and Definitions of Words at Dictionary. com. 24 July 2008. Web. 13 Nov. 2010. . Bibiliography Abraham, John H. “Sociology Encyclopedia Topics | Reference. com. ” Homepage | Reference. com. 27 July 2008. Web. 15 Oct. 2010. . Kendall, Diana Elizabeth. “The Sociological Perspective. ” Sociology in Our times. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2011. 2-36. Print. “Social_stratification | Define Social_stratification at Dictionary. com. ” Dictionary. com | Find the Meanings and Definitions of Words at Dictionary. com. 24 July 2008. Web. 13 Nov. 2010.