normative functionalism

normative functionalism

those forms of FUNCTIONALISM which emphasize the importance of the part played by VALUES and value CONSENSUS in the overall INTEGRATION of societies. The charge is often made that these forms of functionalism give disproportionate weight to the importance of values and normative integration (including the internalization of values) in producing social integration. The STRUCTURAL-FUNCTIONALISM of Talcott PARSONS is often held to be a prime example. See also SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND SYSTEM INTEGRATION, OVERSOCIALIZED CONCEPTION OF MAN; compare DOMINANT IDEOLOGY THESIS.
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The "idea of citizens pulling together to achieve the good life is appealing," Thakkar writes, "[but] Plato's picture of society is obviously illiberal and antidemocratic." Lest the graft fail, Thakkar preserves only what will take to the rootstock of liberalism: "normative functionalism," which Thakkar describes as the view that institutions become better if they cohere around a single good; and "philosophical citizenship," which involves making political philosophy "part of every day life." Normative functionalism sustains a critique of the malfunction of contemporary capitalism: when money-making becomes entrenched to the detriment of the crafts (and broader social life) it is meant to serve, the goods necessary for flourishing may or may not be produced.
To understand what RS is, one has to define it relationally in its opposition to categorical, essentialist, substantialist, atomist, and fixist approaches, like rational choice, normative functionalism, and positivist variable analysis, which conceive of the world as a hapless conglomerate of contingently related, free-standing entities.