Over the last several decades, functional theory in the social sciences has fallen into disfavour. Alleged to be a static form of theory incapable of explaining social change, methodologically impotent and ideologically tainted, functionalism stands accused of being socially and politically reactionary. In this book, Michael Faia challenges the view that functionalism should be rejected. He claims that because functional theories are causal, multivariate, time-ordered, and characterized by reciprocal causation, they are in fact inherently dynamic, demand the highest methodological rigour, and also force sociology to transcend its infamous 'paradigm disputes' by recognizing that the social sciences have already achieved an 'integrated methodological paradigm'. The central arguments of the book are illustrated by a wide variety of examples drawn from several academic disciplines. These range from the incest taboo to witchcraft, from tenure in the US Congress to duration of marriage. The reader thus gains a strong appreciation of the wide applicability of the functionalist mode of explanation.
"...a very important contribution to contemporary theory and methodology...an exciting and engaging work destined to generate controversy and...a more appreciative understanding of functionalism." Contemporary Sociology
List of figures and tables; Preface; Part I. Allegations, Definitions, and Illustrations: 1. A kindly critique of Kingsley Davis; 2. The incest taboo: social selection as a form of feedback; 3. Exemplary exercises in survivorship; 4. The nature, determinants, and consequences of time-series processes; Part II. Adaptive Structures and Social Processes: 5. Patterns of Adaptation; 6. Processes, simulations, and investigations; Part III. L'envoi: 7. Toward an integrated social science paradigm; Appendix; Notes; References; Index.