An understanding of the complex consequences of social processes and social design activities necessitates a holistic systemic perspective, systematised in the classic structural-functional research tradition, which is presented in Functionalist Construction Work in Social Science.
In contrast to fragmented discussions of functionalism and functional analyses, the approach here covers a span ranging from ontological, epistemological and primarily methodological aspects of functionalism. The functionalist tradition in social science is placed in a historic context, and problematised from a philosophy of science perspective. Unique here is a detailed account of four classic functionalist research programmes with a discussion of functionalism, not primarily as a worldview, but as systematic knowledge-generating research strategies. In addition to descriptive and causal questions, the importance of a further research question is demonstrated, i.e., the identification of crucial problems of social organisation.
Functionalist research strategies and functional analysis are of interest for social scientists and students in sociology, political science, and social anthropology. Moreover, the book is relevant for researchers and students of philosophy of science and social science methodology
Table of Contents
1. The Designed World
2. The Functionalist School and Functional Practice
3. Programmatic Functionalism and Functionalist Programmes
4. Bronisław Malinowski and Cultural Biology
5. Radcliffe Brown: Social Anthropology as Comparative Sociology
6. Marion Levy and Structural-Functional Requisite Analysis
7. Robert K. Merton: Functional Tensions in a Divided World
8. Functional Design and Functional Reasoning: Conclusion
Peter Sohlberg is Professor in Philosophy of Social Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology as well as Associate Professor in Sociology Uppsala University, Sweden. His recent publication is Theory in Action. Theoretical Constructionism (2017) edited with Håkon Leiulfsrud.