By Emenike Vincent Onyembi,
Functionalism is synonymous with organismic analogy. It pictures human society as a giant living organism composed of many structures which perform different functions that are integrated for the benefit of the entire organism.
As humans, we have hands, legs, eyes, kidneys and other functional organs. It is the eyes that will see a rope-like object across the road. The brain will make proper interpretations to reveal that it is a snake. The adrenaline glands will pump enough of the liquid for the swift and aggressive action required.
The heart increases its beat to supply more oxygen. The hand picks the knife or stick; the legs take the body within reach of the snake while the hand does the killing.
Without any doubt, the different parts of the body perform different functions that are interrelated so that the body can survive.
Evidently, from the above narration, societies are complex systems of interrelated and independent parts which perform different functions that are nonetheless interrelated.
We will equally note from the narration that each part of society exists because it has vital functions to perform which contribute to the maintenance of society as a whole.
As already noted, all societies have internal mechanisms which ensure social solidarity. In that regard, common beliefs and sentiments transcend individual consciousness thus resulting in value consensus which even for one of the notable sociologists, Emile Durkheim—is the basic functional prerequisite in every society.
“Through value consensus, societies arrive at social order. Without this consensus or agreement on fundamental moral issues, social solidarity would be impossible, and individuals could not be bound together to form an integrated social unit. It is only the ability to believe in moral values that generates collective conscience or value consensus”.
Society should tend towards equilibrium. A self-regulating mechanism makes it possible for conundrums in any section to be managed resulting in the restoration of stability once more.
An organism is in a state of equilibrium when all the parts are functioning in an integrated manner.
A cut with a knife on the leg of a human being will lead to a state of disequilibrium. Loss of blood may seriously damage the person.
Without waiting for doctors and nurses, the body causes blood to clothe around the wound eventually the loss of blood will be minimized or stopped completely, and gradually the internal body building mechanism will restore equilibrium to the person.
There is this assumption that changes is uncommon in society, however, whenever it occurs, it usually leads to beneficial consequences for the whole society.
Every society today needs to generate knowledge, attitudes, skills and behavioural patterns needed by its members.
The family, marriage and educational systems necessarily emerge to provide for the needs above. In analysing our society today, we must ask ourselves these two questions:
1. What are the functions performed by the part of our society?
2. What are the relationships between the part and other units in our society?
The main point here is, what is the relationship between the individual and the society? Reflect on this while you read this article the human society as an organism as you continue your daily activities. Cheers.