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Functionalism

Functionalism

FUNCTIONALISM IN THE PHILOSOPHY OF MIND

FUNCTIONALISM IN SOCIOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY

FUNCTIONALISM IN PSYCHOLOGY

BIBLIOGRAPHY

The term functionalism has been used in at least three different senses in the social sciences. In the philosophy of mind, functionalism is a view about the nature of mental states. In sociology and anthropology, functionalism is an approach to understanding social processes in terms of their contribution to the operation of a social system. In psychology, functionalism was an approach to mental phenomena that emphasized mental processes as opposed to static mental structures.

FUNCTIONALISM IN THE PHILOSOPHY OF MIND

Functionalism in the philosophy of mind was first systematically developed in the 1960s as a view about the nature of mental states such as sensations, beliefs, desires, and emotions. It arose in response to questions about the relation between mind and body, in the context of a debate between opposed views known as dualism and materialism. Dualism was defended by the seventeenth-century philosopher René Descartes (15961650), who held that minds were nonphysical substances that were not located in space and indeed had no physical properties at all. A major difficulty for dualists has been to explain how mental states, if they have no physical properties, can cause or be caused by physical states of a persons body. Materialists, by contrast, have held that there are no non-physical substances, and that mental states are nothing more than physical states.

The best-known materialist views in the 1950s were behaviorism and the identity theory. Behaviorism as a theory of the nature of mental states is sometimes called logical behaviorism to distinguish it from behaviorism as a methodological view in psychology. According to behaviorism, mental states were simply tendencies to behave in certain ways under certain circumstances. Behaviorists thus rejected not only dualism, but also the commonsense view that mental states are internal states that are causes of behavior. Identity theorists, on the other hand, held that mental states were identical with states of the central nervous system. The identity theory appeared to rule out by definition the possibility that mental states could be present in any being that did not have a human central nervous system.

Functionalism was intended to be a theory that was compatible with materialism, while avoiding the difficulties of behaviorism and the identity theory. It was motivated in part by the thought that the relation between mind and body is analogous to the relation between software and hardware in a computer. Computational states are defined, not in terms of specific hardware configurations, but in terms of their relations to inputs, outputs, and other computational states. Computational states are multiply realizable ; that is, they can be realized or implemented by a wide range of different kinds of hardware. Functionalists held that a similar approach could be taken to mental states; that is, mental states could be defined as relations between perceptual inputs, behavioral outputs, and other functional states. For example, the beginnings of a functionalist analysis of pain might point out that it is a state that is produced by potentially harmful sensory inputs, leads to avoidance behaviors, and tends to produce such other mental states as a dislike for whatever caused the pain. According to the functionalist, it is relationships such as these, not a specific physical implementation, that are essential to pain.

Functionalism seems to avoid the difficulties of the other main approaches to the nature of mental states. Because mental states, like computational states, must be implemented in a physical medium, functionalism seems to make it less mysterious than dualism how mental states can stand in causal relations with physical states of the body. Unlike behaviorism, functionalism is compatible with the view that mental states are internal causes of behavior. And unlike the identity theory, functionalism leaves open the possibility that beings very unlike humans could nevertheless have mental states.

Different versions of functionalism have been developed by different writers. The view described above most closely resembles the machine functionalism defended by Hilary Putnam in a number of papers reprinted in his Mind, Language, and Reality (1975). Somewhat different versions were defended by other writers; David Braddon-Mitchell and Frank Jackson offer a useful survey in their Philosophy of Mind and Cognition (1996), and a number of the original papers are reprinted in Readings in the Philosophy of Psychology (1980), edited by Ned Block.

The most serious difficulty for functionalism is the problem of accounting for conscious experiences, which philosophers call qualia. One thought experiment that illustrates the problem involves the apparent possibility of inverted qualia. It seems possible in principle that two people could be functionally identical even though their experiences were inverted, so that when one person saw something green, that person had an experience that felt to him or her the way an experience of something red felt to the other. If this is a real possibility, it follows that functionalism cannot be a complete account of the nature of all mental states, since if two people with identical functional properties could nevertheless have different qualia, then qualia cannot be functional states.

FUNCTIONALISM IN SOCIOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY

In sociology, functionalism was a theoretical perspective that emphasized that the parts of a social system are interrelated in such a way that none of them can be fully understood except in terms of their effects on the others. The relationships between the parts of a social system constitute the structures of that system, and social structures, social processes, and other social phenomena are to be explained in terms of their functions, which are, for most theorists, their contributions to the continued stable existence of the system. The social systems to which functional analysis was applied ranged from units as small as the family to those as large as international organizations; the phenomena to which functions were imputed included social roles, social norms, devices for social control, and many others.

Functionalism originated in the late nineteenth century in the work of such thinkers as Herbert Spencer (18201903) and Émile Durkheim (18581917); it was developed in the early twentieth century as an approach to anthropology by A. R. Radcliffe-Brown (18811955) and Bronislaw Malinowski (18841942); and in the middle decades of the twentieth century, as elaborated by Talcott Parsons (19021979) and Robert Merton (19102003), it became the dominant perspective in American sociology.

Some functionalist writers were influenced by an analogy between societies and biological organisms, and their concept of social function was explicitly modeled on that of biological function. Radcliffe-Brown, for instance, in Structure and Function in Primitive Society (1935, reprinted in Coser and Rosenberg 1976), distinguishes between three sets of sociological problems: social morphology, which identifies social structures just as biological morphology identifies organic structures; social physiology, which identifies the functions of these structures; and development, which studies how new social structures arise, much as evolutionary theory explains the development of new kinds of organisms.

Functionalists have typically thought of the function of a social activity as its contribution to the needs of the society, especially to a social equilibrium, which tends to right itself if disturbed. Durkheim, in the first systematic development of a functionalist approach, distinguished between the cause of an activity such as the punishment of crime, on the one hand, and its function, on the other. The practice of punishment may initially be caused by an intention to deter crime or achieve justice, but its function, according to Durkheim, is to maintain our intense emotional disapproval of crime. Although a particular practice or activity may not initially be caused by a recognition of the function it will serve, Durkheim holds that its serving a useful function is nevertheless part of the explanation of the continued survival of that practice.

Malinowski, who introduced the term functionalism into anthropology, identified seven fundamental biological needs: metabolism, reproduction, bodily comforts, safety, movement, growth, and health, as well as derived needs, such as the need to produce goods and the need to regulate behavior. He held that the function of social processes was ultimately to satisfy these individual needs. Radcliffe-Brown rejected this view, going so far as to write that as a consistent opponent of Malinowskis functionalism I may be called an anti-functionalist (Functionalism: A Protest [1949], reprinted in Kuper 1977, p. 49). Although he regarded the concept of function as central to anthropology, in his view the function of social processes was not to satisfy individual needs, but rather to support or preserve social structures. Radcliffe-Browns view is often called structural functionalism to distinguish it from Malinowskis.

The sociologists most closely associated with functionalism in the mid-twentieth century were Talcott Parsons and Robert Merton. (The terms functionalism and structural functionalism are both used to describe their work.) Parsons identified four functions that any social system needs in order to achieve and maintain equilibrium. These were: adaptation, or the acquisition and distribution of resources from the environment; goal attainment, which involves determining which goals of the system have priority and determining how to achieve them; integration, which involves coordinating relationships between various social actors to enable them to function smoothly together; and latent pattern maintenance-tension management, which involves transmitting values that will keep actors motivated to act in ways that are necessary for the continued functioning of the system.

Mertons contributions included his distinction between manifest functions, which are consequences that agents in the system recognize and intend to produce, and latent functions, which are not intended or recognized. Whereas Parsons had tended to emphasize manifest functions, Merton stressed that many important functions are latent. Merton also introduced the concept of dysfunctions, which are consequences of an activity that have negative effects on the stability of the system.

By the late 1970s, functionalism was no longer the dominant paradigm in sociology, in part because of the perceived conservatism of its emphasis on equilibrium, and its consequent lack of attention to social conflict and change, and in part because it was seen more as a set of abstract categories than as a testable empirical theory. In the 1980s and 1990s, there was some interest in a neofunctionalist sociology that attempted to preserve the insights of functionalism, especially as represented in Parsonss work, while addressing its perceived failings.

FUNCTIONALISM IN PSYCHOLOGY

In psychology, the term functionalism refers to an American school of psychology that was influential at the turn of the nineteenth century. Functionalism developed in response to the earlier structuralist view advanced by Wilhelm Wundt (18321920) and Edward B. Titchener (18671927). Structuralist psychology used an introspectionist methodology to attempt to identify basic elements of conscious experience into which more complex experiences, or structures, could be analyzed. Functionalism, by contrast, emphasized psychological processes rather than static psychological structures. Functionalism also stressed the role of the mind as a mediator between the environment and the needs of the organism; like the pragmatist philosophy that influenced it, functionalism held that psychological processes should be understood in terms of their effects. The most influential contributors to this school were the pragmatist philosophers William James (18421910) and John Dewey (18591952), and the University of Chicago psychologist James Rowland Angell (18691949). Although functionalism influenced later approaches to psychology, as a distinct school it faded from view in the early decades of the twentieth century, as behaviorism rose to prominence.

SEE ALSO Anthropology; Behaviorism; Durkheim, Émile; James, William; Malinowski, Bronislaw; Materialism; Merton, Robert K.; Parsons, Talcott; Philosophy; Pragmatism; Psychology; Radcliffe-Brown, A. R.; Sociology; Spencer, Herbert; Structuralism; Theory of Mind

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alexander, Jeffrey C. 1997. Neofunctionalism and After. Oxford: Blackwell.

Angell, James Rowland. 1907. The Province of Functional Psychology. Psychological Review 14: 6191.

Block, Ned, ed. 1980. Readings in Philosophy of Psychology, Vol. 1. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Braddon-Mitchell, David, and Frank Jackson. 1996. Philosophy of Mind and Cognition. Oxford: Blackwell.

Coser, Lewis A., and Bernard Rosenberg, eds. 1976. Sociological Theory: A Book of Readings. 4th ed. New York: Macmillan.

Kuper, Adam, ed. 1977. The Social Anthropology of Radcliffe-Brown. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Levin, Janet. 2004. Functionalism. In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Edward N. Zalta. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/functionalism/.

Malinowski, Bronislaw. 1944. A Scientific Theory of Culture and Other Essays. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Putnam, Hilary. 1975. Mind, Language, and Reality. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

Wallace, Ruth A., and Alison Wolf. 2005. Contemporary Sociological Theory: Expanding the Classical Tradition. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Curtis Brown

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Functionalism

Functionalism


Functionalism is a schema of explanation: All parts of a system fulfil a necessary, latent function for the system as a whole, its stable equilibrium (principle of homeostasis), or its survival. Functionalism, thus, is a descendant of earlier teleological or finalistic conceptions. It can be applied to nearly all complex systems, but functional explanations are not a unitary phenomenon across disciplines.


Functionalism in sociology

Stimulated by Auguste Comte (17981857), Herbert Spencer (18201903), and especially Emile Durkheim (18581917), and encouraged through the anthropologists Bronislaw Malinowski (18841942) and A. R. Radcliffe-Brown (18811955), functionalism became important in sociology. Specific structural-functional macro-theories, such as that proposed by Talcott Parsons, describe religious institutions, norms, and symbols with respect to their output on integration, legitimization, compensation, and socialization for the society as a whole, its equilibrium, or its survival. The function of religion is destined for its power of integration (e.g., Durkheim), its role to institutionalize cultural-social norms (Parsons), or its ability to cope with experiences of contingency and reducing complexity (Nikklas Luhman).

This functional conception of religion has been criticized with respect to the epistemological and cognitive status of religious notions, regardless of the contribution of religion to the survival of human cultures. In addition, though the notion of stable equilibrium in functional analysis enables one to define what is dysfunctional and allows the search for functional equivalents, it needs to be defined in its temporal context and can hardly cover social change; in other words, it was accused of being conservative. However, functionalists can easily dismiss this criticism: Contributing to an optimum is adaptive, not legitimate. Some functional theories do not even have a static or equilibrium bias (Luhmann). Modern (neo)functionalism (which takes cybernetic concepts into account), theories about the evolution of religion proposed by Robert Bellah (which mediate the structural-functional model and historic-genetic model of social evolution), and autopoietic systems theories like that of Luhmann all try to avoid this and other criticism mentioned below.


Functionalism in biology

The form of a functional explanation in biology is the same as in sociology: It explains the presence of a trait as solution to a hypothetical design problem to assure that the needs of the individual or group are satisfied. Functional explanations for the needs of the genes are especially popular in socio-biology. Intentions are not involved.

Controversies in sociology and biology roughly concern (1) evidence, (2) explanation, and (3) the selection question. First, opponents like Richard Lewontin argue that stories are being told in socio-biology that have little statistical evidence, are incomplete, and are not empirically testable. Functionalism is accused of "adaptive failure": Adaptiveness does not assure presence of a trait, and it does not give criteria for normality and empirical measures for survival. In the same vein, functionalism is accused of eliminating the truth-question: The issue is not whether the propositions are true or whether there is evidence for believing them to be true, but how holding beliefs is functional. Second, the issue of different levels of explanation is controversial: Is the gene level sufficient for sociobiological explanations? Or do also the individual or the group level have to be considered? Also, the relation of functional explanations to mere functional descriptions and to chemical, causal explanations is controversial. Third, functional explanations in biology do better than those in sociology, it is argued, because they offer an answer to the selection question, natural selection, whereas mechanisms for cultural selection have not been satisfactorily developed. Nevertheless, as Wolfgang Stegmüller posits, functional analysis can be logically correct, empirically substantial, and highly valuable as a heuristic research program. Despite these controversies, (neo)functionalism dominated mainstream sociological and anthropological theories for most of the twentieth century. Functionalist approaches are also prominent in biology.

Functionalism in philosophy of mind

In contemporary philosophy of mind, functionalism is one of the most important theories. Developed in the 1960s by Hilary Putnam and Jerry Fodor, a wide range of different versions has been developed since. The basic thesis is: Mental states are functional states caused by external sensory inputs, causing external behavioral outputs, and causally related to other functional states. One function may be realized in different ways in different cases (multiple realizability). One can roughly distinguish between common-sense or analytic functionalism, which deals with meanings of mental vocabulary; scientific, empirical, or psycho-functionalism, in which neurobiology lays down the characteristics of functional roles of mental states; and machine- or computer-functionalism, where the relation of mind to brain is thought to be equivalent to the relation of software to hardware, usually excluding intentionality and teleology. This computer functionalism, supported by fruitful research on artificial intelligence, has been investigated by Putnam, as well as others, as a worthwhile reaction to a materialistic or physicalistic view of mind because it does not attribute mental states only to humans or living organisms with a similar central nervous system. Like functionalism in general, it hardly gives sufficient justice to qualitative phenomena.


Functionalism in science and religion

Functional approaches are also highly relevant to the science and religion dialogue, mainly in interpretations of ideas about nature and God. An approach that historians of science and religion like John H. Brooke have found useful is to ask what function theology plays within the sciences and vice versa. Religious belief can function as a presupposition of, or sanction for, science. Religious belief could even provide a motivation for science if one happened to believe that the more one uncovered of the intricacies of nature the greater the evidence of divine intelligence. Robert John Russell has even suggested that scientific research programs such as Big Bang Theory and Steady State Theory have been motivated by religious respectively atheistic worldviews. Religion may also have reinforced aesthetic criteria, such as ideas of simplicity, elegance, and harmony in theory selection. The aim of a functional analysis is to uncover the uses to which natural theology was put, even in the fields of politics.

Ralph Wendell Burhoe's scientific theology is a functional approach to religion. Based upon writings of the sociologist Donald T. Campbell, Burhoe argues for a positively selected role for religion in the survival of cultures: Only religions can enable the shift from selfishness to altruistic behavior. He even argues for a continuing role for religion or a functional equivalent in the development and survival of human culture, proposing his scientific theology, which incorporates the scientific world-view. Critical reactions to this approach show that a functional approach to religion within a scientific framework has to be complemented by a functional approach to science within a religious or theological framework. This has been done by Philip Hefner from the point of view of a distinct theological anthropology. The integration of both concepts could have an even more liberating effect on the science and religion dialogue.


See also Artificial Intelligence; Mind-body Theories; Mind-brain Interaction; Neurosciences; Teleology


Bibliography

abrahamson, mark. functionalism. englewood cliffs, n.j.: prentice-hall, 1978.

alexander, jeffrey c. neofunctionalism and after. malden, mass., and oxford, uk: blackwell, 1998.

block, ned. "art. functionalism (2)." in a companion to the philosophy of mind, ed. samuel guttenplan. cambridge, mass., and oxford, uk: blackwell, 1994.

braddon-mitchell, david, and jackson, frank. philosophy of mind and cognition. oxford, uk, and cambridge, mass.: blackwell, 1996.

brooke, john, and cantor, geoffrey. reconstructing nature: the engagement of science and religion. edinburgh, uk: t&t clark, 1998.

burhoe, ralph wendell. toward a scientific theology. belfast, northern ireland: christian journals limited, 1981.

hefner, philip. the human factor: evolution, culture, and religion. minneapolis, minn.: fortress press, 1993.

kincaid, harold. "functionalism defended." in philosophical foundations of the social sciences: analyzing controversies in social research. cambridge, uk: cambridge university press, 1996.

lycan, william g. "art: functionalism (1)." in a companion to the philosophy of mind, ed. samuel guttenplan. cambridge, mass., and oxford, uk: blackwell, 1994.

meisinger, hubert. "christian love and biological altruism." zygon 35 (2000) 745782.

putnam, hilary. representation and reality. boston: mit press, 1988.

root, michael. philosophy of social science: the methods, ideals, and politics of social inquiry. oxford, uk, and cambridge, mass.: blackwell, 1993.

richardson, w. mark, and russell, robert john. science and the spiritual quest: new essays by leading scientists. london and new york: routledge, 2002.

sober, elliott, and wilson, david sloan. unto others: the evolution and psychology of unselfish behavior. cambridge, mass.: harvard university press, 1998.

stegmüller, wolfgang. probleme und resultate der wissenschaftstheorie und analytischen philosophie. vol. 1: erklärung, begründung, kausalität, 2nd edition. new york, heidelberg, and berlin: springer, 1993.

turner, jonathan h., and maryanski, alexandra. functionalism. menlo park, calif.: benjamin cummings, 1979.

hubert meisinger

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Functionalism

Functionalism

A psychological approach, popular in the early part of the twentieth century, that focused on how consciousness functions to help human beings adapt to their environment.

The goal of the first psychologists was to determine the structure of consciousness just as chemists had found the structure of chemicals. Thus, the school of psychology associated with this approach earned the name structuralism. This perspective began in Germany in the laboratory of Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920).

Before long, however, psychologists suggested that psychology should not concern itself with the structure of consciousness because, they argued, consciousness was always changing so it had no basic structure. Instead, they suggested that psychology should focus on the function or purpose of consciousness and how it leads to adaptive behavior. This approach to psychology was consistent with Charles Darwin 's theory of evolution, which exerted a significant impact on the character of psychology. The school of functionalism developed and flourished in the United States, which quickly surpassed Germany as the primary location of scientific psychology.

In 1892, George Trumbull Ladd (1842-1921), one of the early presidents of the American Psychological Association , had declared that objective psychology should not replace the subjective psychology of the structuralists. By 1900, however, most psychologists agreed with a later president, Joseph Jastrow, that psychology was the science of mental content, not of structure. At that point, structuralism still had some adherents, but it was fast becoming a minor part of psychology.

The early functionalists included the pre-eminent psychologist and philosopher William James . James promoted the idea that the mind and consciousness itself would not exist if it did not serve some practical, adaptive purpose. It had evolved because it presented advantages. Along with this idea, James maintained that psychology should be practical and should be developed to make a difference in people's lives.

One of the difficulties that concerned the functionalists was how to reconcile the objective, scientific nature of psychology with its focus on consciousness, which by its nature is not directly observable. Although psychologists like William James accepted the reality of consciousness and the role of the will in people's lives, even he was unable to resolve the issue of scientific acceptance of consciousness and will within functionalism.

Other functionalists, like John Dewey , developed ideas that moved ever farther from the realm that structuralism had created. Dewey, for example, used James's ideas as the basis for his writings, but asserted that consciousness and the will were not relevant concepts for scientific psychology. Instead, the behavior is the critical issue and should be considered in the context in which it occurs. For example, a stimulus might be important in one circumstance, but irrelevant in another. A person's response to that stimulus depends on the value of that stimulus in the current situation. Thus, practical and adaptive responses characterize behavior, not some unseen force like consciousness.

This dilemma of how to deal with a phenomenon as subjective as consciousness within the context of an objective psychology ultimately led to the abandonment of functionalism in favor of behaviorism , which rejected everything dealing with consciousness. By 1912, very few psychologists regarded psychology as the study of mental contentthe focus was on behavior instead. As it turned out, the school of functionalism provided a temporary framework for the replacement of structuralism, but was itself supplanted by the school of behaviorism.

Interestingly, functionalism drew criticism from both the structuralists and from the behaviorists. The structuralists accused the functionalists of failing to define the concepts that were important to functionalism. Further, the structuralists declared that the functionalists were simply not studying psychology at all; psychology to a structuralist involved mental content and nothing else. Finally, the functionalists drew criticism for applying psychology; the structuralists opposed applications in the name of psychology.

On the other hand, behaviorists were uncomfortable with the functionalists' acceptance of consciousness and sought to make psychology the study of behavior. Eventually, the behavioral approach gained ascendance and reigned for the next half century.

Functionalism was important in the development of psychology because it broadened the scope of psychological research and application. Because of the wider perspective, psychologists accepted the validity of research with animals, with children, and with people having psychiatric disabilities. Further, functionalists introduced a wide variety of research techniques that were beyond the boundaries of structural psychology, like physiological measures, mental tests, and questionnaires. The functionalist legacy endures in psychology today.

Some historians have suggested that functional psychology was consistent with the progressivism that characterized American psychology at the end of the nineteenth century: more people were moving to and living in urban areas, science seemed to hold all the answers for creating a Utopian society, educational reform was underway, and many societal changes faced America. It is not surprising that psychologists began to consider the role that psychology could play in developing a better society.

Further Reading

Biro, J.I., and Robert W. Shahan, eds. Mind, Brain, and Function: Essays in the Philosophy of Mind. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1982.

Leahey, T. H. A History of Modern Psychology. 2nd ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1994.

Putnam, Hilary. Representation and Reality. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1988.

Schultz, D. P., and S. E. Schultz. A History of Modern Psychology. 6th ed. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1996.

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functionalism

func·tion·al·ism / ˈfəngkshənlˌizəm/ • n. belief in or stress on the practical application of a thing, in particular: ∎  (in the arts) the doctrine that the design of an object should be determined solely by its function, rather than by aesthetic considerations, and that anything practically designed will be inherently beautiful. ∎  (in the social sciences) the theory that all aspects of a society serve a function and are necessary for the survival of that society. ∎  (in the philosophy of mind) the theory that mental states can be sufficiently defined by their cause, their effect on other mental states, and their effect on behavior. DERIVATIVES: func·tion·al·ist n. & adj.

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functionalism (in art and architecture)

functionalism, in art and architecture, an aesthetic doctrine developed in the early 20th cent. out of Louis Henry Sullivan's aphorism that form ever follows function. Functionalist architects and artists design utilitarian structures in which the interior program dictates the outward form, without regard to such traditional devices as axial symmetry and classical proportions. After World War I, the German Bauhaus produced a number of influential architects and designers, notably Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who worked within this aesthetic. Functionalism was subsequently absorbed into the International style as one of its guiding principles.

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Functionalism

Functionalism. Theory that good design results from or is identical with functional efficiency, i.e. architecture should be determined by function alone. It is of considerable antiquity, and was promoted by Viollet-le-Duc and other C19 architects before Louis Sullivan coined his ‘form follows function’ slogan (1896). It is used by e.g. Giedion and Pevsner to justify International Modernism, even though that style was arguably no more ‘functional’ than any other, and in some ways less so.

Bibliography

R. Banham (1960);
Lampugnani (ed.) (1988);
J. M. Richards (1958);
Sartoris (1936);
Jane Turner (1996);
Zurko (1957)

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functionalism

functionalism Sociological and anthropological theory outlined by Emile Durkheim. The theory attempts to understand the function of each part of society (customs, institutions, objects, roles, religion) in relation to each other and to the whole society. It attempts to explain how each separate cultural phenomenon corresponds to the ‘needs’ of the whole society.

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functionalism

functionalism In art and architecture, an early 20th-century style based on utilitarianism. Functionalism rejected ornamentation and stressed the basic structure of the work and of the materials used. Major proponents of functionalism included Gropius, Bauhaus, and Le Corbusier.

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"functionalism." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 26, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/functionalism

"functionalism." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved July 26, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/functionalism

Functionalism

Functionalism (accounts of religion which focus on the functions which religion serves): see SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION.

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"Functionalism." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Functionalism." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 26, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/functionalism

"Functionalism." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved July 26, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/functionalism