Social Sciences

Start Free Trial

What are the similarities between Marxism and functionalism?

Marxism and functionalism are similar in that they both are largely deterministic and positivistic, both base analysis of society on its ideology, and both diminish the importance of individual choice in societal patterns.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
  • Both approaches are deterministic. They see individuals as being largely determined by outside forces, such as social and economic forces. At times, Marxist and functionalist analyses of individuals in society can give the impression that people are not really in control of their own destiny.
  • Marxism and functionalism base...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
  • Both approaches are deterministic. They see individuals as being largely determined by outside forces, such as social and economic forces. At times, Marxist and functionalist analyses of individuals in society can give the impression that people are not really in control of their own destiny.
  • Marxism and functionalism base their analyses of society on its ideological structures. Both sociological theories claim that society is maintained, to a considerable extent, by systems of prevailing ideas and beliefs.
  • As such, it is the structure of society, how it is organized, that shapes us as individuals, not vice versa. In that sense, Marxism and functionalism, at least when applied to sociology, can be said to be anti-humanist. They diminish the importance of the individual human when analyzing society.
  • In turn, this means that Marxist and functionalist theories can be said to arrive at a certain degree of social objectivity, in which society has a momentum of its own, developing under its own internal force.
  • Marxism and functionalism hold that societies operate on the principle of cause and effect. In other words, everything that happens in society has a specific cause.
  • Both theories are strongly positivistic. This means that they regard the study of society as a science, which, like all sciences, requires an empirical methodology that painstakingly gathers as many facts as possible through observation.
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team