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Criticism of Radcliffe-Brown's Structural-Functionalism

The functional and structural approach of Radcliffe-Brown has been subjected to very strong criticism.

  • Some critics argue that it is wrong to look at society as a living organism because the structure of living organism does not change but society does.
  • The concept of social structure has led to the fallacy of misplaced concreteness- an error arising from assuming that one's abstraction of a social situation reflects social reality in all details.
  • In this approach functions of units of society are determined. In absence of any concrete function the analysis is done on the basis of imagination.
  • Structural-functional explanations are teleological explanations. The function has been used in terms of purpose. This approach does not deal with change. It believes in static in place of dynamic.
  • This approach creates suspicion between cause and function. It does not reveal any difference between result of behavior and their causes.
  • Structural-functionalists treat social order as an integrated whole. Sometimes a situation arises in which a society can be seen in state of imbalance and disequilibrium for a long time.
  • Structural-functionalists are value -biased. They try to show as if purpose were kept in arrangement of order.

Inspite of all the criticisms the structural-functional approach of Radcliffe-Brown provides us such a foundation of knowledge and law by which we can control social behavior. It gives us such a conceptual framework on the basis of which observations and an explanation of social events is possible scientifically. It builds such principles and theories by which social facts can be explained easily.