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Functionalism Revisited: A practice based Functionalism
Unformatted Document Text:  Functionalism Revisited 25 In sum, (1) there is plausibility in the structuralist/functionalist ideas about regularity of social life in many cases. However, (2) such ideas are always transformative through the history of human actions and structuration, and (3) such transformation of regularity should be carefully observed even while understanding the world with such a “regularity.” Therefore, (4) observing the trends (changes) of established “regularity” would benefit changing and modifying or even discarding the very regularity (used as theoretical grounds) observed once. Only in this sense is using and applying the structuralist/functionalist viewpoint justified. Going back to Institutional theory and RDT, we may argue that organizational actions in an economic institution is the results of the observation of regularity of economic interactions. Before discussing the regularity found in these approaches, Giddens’ notion on social change is worth to read. Giddens argues that in general social change involves a “de-routinization” of routine life. One of the routes of the de-routinization was the disavowal of traditions through legal-rational organizations. Giddens points out that there had been constant interference and influence of rationalized efforts and conscious social innovation against the traditional society during the capitalism emergence (Giddens, 1979). That is, economic practices had been highly regulative and regularized. Bureaucracy – i.e., record keeping, planning, and avoiding factionalism by measuring work performances, etc – for example, is a result of systematic integration of localized organizational actions. At the same time, it was such a notion of “bureaucracy” that accelerated a regularized pattern of organizational actions. Therefore, bureaucratic mode of organizational life became a compelling locus of social, organizational actions. Two notions are of importance here. On one hand, it argues that European capitalist institution during the late 19th century gone through structuration with particular modes – rationalized action and decision-making model. If we think that terms and concepts such as “the organization man” (Whyte, 1956) “self-interest individual” (Smith, 1776) and so on were not driven from a vacuum, we can assume that most parts of individuals’ or organizational intentions put into the economic actions have been closely related to “rationalization.” This indicates that the theoretical and philosophical stances of economic disciplines are equally contending in comparison to the approaches of other disciplines. Second, the notions or concepts depicted in any time-span by social science researchers through communication media re-enter into the economic and social life. Giddens puts: The concepts that sociological observers invent are ‘second-order’ concepts in so far as they presume certain conceptual capabilities on the part of the actors to whose conduct they refer. But it is in the nature of social science that these can become ‘first-order concepts by being appropriated within social life itself (Giddens, 1984, p284).

Authors: Kim, Hyo.
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Functionalism Revisited 25
In sum, (1) there is plausibility in the structuralist/functionalist ideas about regularity of social life
in many cases. However, (2) such ideas are always transformative through the history of human actions
and structuration, and (3) such transformation of regularity should be carefully observed even while
understanding the world with such a “regularity.” Therefore, (4) observing the trends (changes) of
established “regularity” would benefit changing and modifying or even discarding the very regularity
(used as theoretical grounds) observed once. Only in this sense is using and applying the
structuralist/functionalist viewpoint justified.
Going back to Institutional theory and RDT, we may argue that organizational actions in an
economic institution is the results of the observation of regularity of economic interactions. Before
discussing the regularity found in these approaches, Giddens’ notion on social change is worth to read.
Giddens argues that in general social change involves a “de-routinization” of routine life. One of the
routes of the de-routinization was the disavowal of traditions through legal-rational organizations.
Giddens points out that there had been constant interference and influence of rationalized efforts and
conscious social innovation against the traditional society during the capitalism emergence (Giddens,
1979). That is, economic practices had been highly regulative and regularized. Bureaucracy – i.e., record
keeping, planning, and avoiding factionalism by measuring work performances, etc – for example, is a
result of systematic integration of localized organizational actions. At the same time, it was such a notion
of “bureaucracy” that accelerated a regularized pattern of organizational actions. Therefore, bureaucratic
mode of organizational life became a compelling locus of social, organizational actions.
Two notions are of importance here. On one hand, it argues that European capitalist institution
during the late 19th century gone through structuration with particular modes – rationalized action and
decision-making model. If we think that terms and concepts such as “the organization man” (Whyte,
1956) “self-interest individual” (Smith, 1776) and so on were not driven from a vacuum, we can assume
that most parts of individuals’ or organizational intentions put into the economic actions have been
closely related to “rationalization.” This indicates that the theoretical and philosophical stances of
economic disciplines are equally contending in comparison to the approaches of other disciplines.
Second, the notions or concepts depicted in any time-span by social science researchers through
communication media re-enter into the economic and social life. Giddens puts:
The concepts that sociological observers invent are ‘second-order’ concepts in so far as they
presume certain conceptual capabilities on the part of the actors to whose conduct they refer. But it
is in the nature of social science that these can become ‘first-order concepts by being appropriated
within social life itself (Giddens, 1984, p284).


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