By Shaun Best

ISBN-10: 1848608632

ISBN-13: 9781848608634

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**Additional resources for A beginner's guide to social theory**

**Example text**

What is Durkheim's theory of structure? Social solidarity is the cohesion that people have within a group. For Durkheim, modern society has a cohesion because of the differences between people. He used the term `organic solidarity' because he saw society as very much like the human body. In a similar fashion to organs in the body, each of which has a different shape, function and purpose, all making a contribution to the effective functioning of the body; so various groups and individuals with their different skills and abilities all contributed to the smooth running of the society.

This is not a matter of mere behavioral agreement, nor of coordinating the interests and intentions of different actors. Instead, it concerns a basic condition of possibility for social action as such. (Luhmann, 1995: 101) No action can take place without ®rst solving the problem of double contingency. This problem is described by Luhmann as follows: `The basic situation of double contingency is . . simple: two black boxes, by whatever accident, come to have dealings with one another. Each determines its own behavior by complex self-referential operations within its own boundaries .

As Parsons explains, this pressure to bring about change from within the social system had two principal sources: cultural and motivational sources of change. These two factors generated `strains' within the social system. Neil Smelser carried out a case study of the emergence of the cotton industry in Lancashire making use of the Parsonian notion of structural differentiation. According to Smelser (1959), after the initial dissatisfaction with 32 Functionalist Perspectives some aspects of the social system, the `mechanisms of change and adjustment to change' proceeded through the following stages: · · · · · · symptoms of disturbance, such as negative emotional reaction; covert attempts to handle the tensions; tolerance of the new ideas in certain important groups; positive attempts to translate the new ideas into concrete efforts at making pro®t; implementation of the innovations; routinising of the innovation into society.

### A beginner's guide to social theory by Shaun Best

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