Functional Problems of Society

Functional Problems of Society

Functional Problems of Society

Enough has been said about this matter of corporate functions to indicate that it is an important and complex one. People often take very strong positions about it, positions which are highly ideological in the sense that they are emotionally charged and have little of the objectivity of science. It is understandable that this is the case, because the issue of corporate functions has a bearing on many of our most cherished values and goals. is not this all the more reason to approach this question as scientifically as possible? What is needed is a theory of the functions of the company which will enable us to tell which corporate functions are legitimate and which are not.

Sociologjsts tend to agree that survival is the most fundamental goal of society, and in order to survive it must solve four functional problems:

(1) goal attainment,
(2) business combined 
(3) integration, and
(4) pattern maintenance and tension management.

The problem of goal attainment arises from the need to coordinate the members of society in cooperative endeavours. Society is organized in accordance with the principle of the division of labour. Each member of society specializes in the performance of a particular task. Their efforts must be meshed together and organized into a coherent and cooperative whole. Cooperation implies an attitude toward coordination, which can be thought of as the formal regulation of interdependent specialists to attain common goals. Thus goal attainment involves solving the problem of coordination needed to keep society moving steadily toward whatever goals it has.

Closely related to the goal attainment problem of society is that of adaption. The adaptive problem concerns the way in which society trans-forms its human and nonhuman resources for the purpose of attaining its goals. Adaption is basically concerned with economizing-the allocating of a given stock of scarce resources among different ends so as to achieve as much satisfaction as possible.

Economizing involves the twin social processes of rational calculation and control. to be rational is to select among alternative means the ones most likely to achieve the desired end. to be rationally calculating in meeting the functional problem of adaption is to calculate the advantages and disadvantages of different ways of using resources and to select the combination which results in the highest level of attainment of the goals of society. Control involves having power over the actions of others. Since many individuals perform different but related adaptive activities, control must be exercised to co-ordinate their efforts so as to avoid conflicts and to obtain the best results.

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