The Functional Aspects of Political Systems
This discussion of flows of inputs and outputs leads logically to a consideration of the functions of political systems. Functionalism is an old theme in political theory. In its modern form, the stress on functionalism is derived from anthropological and sociological theory. The chief social theorists associated with functionalism are the anthropologists Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown and the sociologists Parsons, Merton, and Marion Levy.1 Although these men differ substantially in their concepts of system and function, essentially they have said that the ability to explain and predict in the social sciences is enhanced when we think of social structures and institutions as performing functions in systems. By comparing the performance of structures and the regulatory role of political culture as they fulfill common functions in all systems, we may analyze systems which appear very different from one another.
KeywordsPolitical System Conversion Process Political Culture Political Structure Sociological Theory
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- 1.Bronislaw Malinowski, Magic, Science and Religion and Other Essays (Garden City: Doubleday & Company Inc., 1954);Google Scholar
- A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, Structure and Function in Primitive Society (New York: The Free Press of Glencoe, 1957);Google Scholar
- Talcott Parsons, Essays in Sociological Theory Pure and Applied (New York: The Free Press of Glencoe, 1959) and The Social System (New York: The Free Press of Glencoe, 1951);Google Scholar
- Talcott Parsons and Edward Shils (eds.), Toward a General Theory of Action (Cambridge: Harvard U.P., 1951);Google Scholar
- Robert K. Merton, Social Theory and Social Structure (New York: The Free Press of Glencoe, 1957);Google Scholar
- Marion Levy, The Structure of Society (Princeton U.P., 1952).Google Scholar