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Functionalism Revisited: A practice based Functionalism
Unformatted Document Text:  Functionalism Revisited 23 (1) unintended consequences of actions arise, which may disrupt the regularities or (2) something radical arises out of a conflict situation. Giddens recognizes that unintended consequences of actions are a “generalized” feature of modern society; and elaborates how unintended consequences of actions become a regular feature of social life elsewhere (Giddens, 1984). 6 It is the period of radical changes when it is the most difficult to explain social phenomena with a functionalistic approach. Dachau and Buchenwald camps, for example, provide unexpected, radically distorted social environments. Under such circumstances, using deterministic viewpoint would not accurately depict how day-to-day life goes on unless an emerging regularity in the camp arises. Another example is that when CIS arises as emerging resources in organizations, some communication researchers once tried to explicate how the characteristics of new media would influence organizational task processes and environments. “Cues-filtered-out” (Kiesler, Siegel, & McGuire, 1984), “media richness” (Daft & Lengel, 1984; Daft & Lengel, 1986; Daft, Lengel, & Trevino, 1987; Lengel & Daft, 1988; Trevino, 1987), or “social presence” (Rice, 1993a) approaches were functionalistic approaches derived from characterizing established, traditional types of media. Applying such characteristics to new media did not fit well (Fulk & Boyd, 1991; Rice, 1992). It was so because albeit its moderateness of the effect – i.e., they were different from either “radical,” “critical” moment (in Giddens’ term) in comparison to the life situation in the Dachau and Buchenwald camps, or “gradual changes (de-routinization) of social life” – there was newness of using CIS; and this complicated organizational situations. That is, organizational individuals did not have enough experiences to deal with new media in their social interaction. Anticipating and realizing stable manners of social practices in the new situation would be derived from each individual’s own analogous experiences. However, because of some newness of CIS – e.g., expansion of space-time; hence dealing with others in different cultures, using different structural properties – such efforts would sometimes collapse or result in unexpected situations – e.g., flaming. The latter research efforts such as social influence, using network analysis identifying the exact sources of influences, and other approaches seem efforts toward seeking out the development of new media use among individuals (Rice, 1993b, 1994). Walther and others’ studies on computer mediated 6 Merton (1957) also discusses the same concept with a term, “latent function.” He points is that categorical subjective disposition such as needs, desire, purposes differ from objective functional consequences such as "never conscious" consequences, and "unintended . . . service to society" (p.63). He illustrates that the unexpected outcomes of social functions (manifest function) are due to the former, categorical subjective dispositions; and points out that they tend to make functional outcomes irregular – e.g., Hawthorne Western Electronic Studies by Mayor (1945).

Authors: Kim, Hyo.
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Functionalism Revisited 23
(1) unintended consequences of actions arise, which may disrupt the regularities or (2) something radical
arises out of a conflict situation.
Giddens recognizes that unintended consequences of actions are a “generalized” feature of modern
society; and elaborates how unintended consequences of actions become a regular feature of social life
elsewhere (Giddens, 1984).
6
It is the period of radical changes when it is the most difficult to explain
social phenomena with a functionalistic approach. Dachau and Buchenwald camps, for example, provide
unexpected, radically distorted social environments. Under such circumstances, using deterministic
viewpoint would not accurately depict how day-to-day life goes on unless an emerging regularity in the
camp arises. Another example is that when CIS arises as emerging resources in organizations, some
communication researchers once tried to explicate how the characteristics of new media would influence
organizational task processes and environments. “Cues-filtered-out” (Kiesler, Siegel, & McGuire, 1984),
“media richness” (Daft & Lengel, 1984; Daft & Lengel, 1986; Daft, Lengel, & Trevino, 1987; Lengel &
Daft, 1988; Trevino, 1987), or “social presence” (Rice, 1993a) approaches were functionalistic
approaches derived from characterizing established, traditional types of media. Applying such
characteristics to new media did not fit well (Fulk & Boyd, 1991; Rice, 1992).
It was so because albeit its moderateness of the effect – i.e., they were different from either
“radical,” “critical” moment (in Giddens’ term) in comparison to the life situation in the Dachau and
Buchenwald camps, or “gradual changes (de-routinization) of social life” – there was newness of using
CIS; and this complicated organizational situations. That is, organizational individuals did not have
enough experiences to deal with new media in their social interaction. Anticipating and realizing stable
manners of social practices in the new situation would be derived from each individual’s own analogous
experiences. However, because of some newness of CIS – e.g., expansion of space-time; hence dealing
with others in different cultures, using different structural properties – such efforts would sometimes
collapse or result in unexpected situations – e.g., flaming.
The latter research efforts such as social influence, using network analysis identifying the exact
sources of influences, and other approaches seem efforts toward seeking out the development of new
media use among individuals (Rice, 1993b, 1994). Walther and others’ studies on computer mediated
6
Merton (1957) also discusses the same concept with a term, “latent function.” He points is that
categorical subjective disposition such as needs, desire, purposes differ from objective functional
consequences such as "never conscious" consequences, and "unintended . . . service to society" (p.63).
He illustrates that the unexpected outcomes of social functions (manifest function) are due to the former,
categorical subjective dispositions; and points out that they tend to make functional outcomes irregular –
e.g., Hawthorne Western Electronic Studies by Mayor (1945).


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