Functionalism is the sociological theory which holds that each part of society is necessary for the functioning of the social organism. There are several elements in the functionalist paradigm which explain how society functions to maintain the social organism and keep it alive. These elements, or tenets of functionalism are cohesion, integration, solidarity, and equilibrium. These elements explain how society is divided into it’s different functional parts, with each part dependent on the other, and the amassed parts adding up to the structural whole of society.
According to Emile Durkheim there are two kinds of societies with one being simple and mechanic and the other being complex and organic. Of course there isn’t a fine line between the two categories, there is a progression from one to the other. As society becomes increasingly organic there is more differentiation between members of that society since not everyone can have the same role. In mechanic societies there is a high solidarity among all members of that society: they have the same beliefs, religion, and means of survival. In organic societies there is a differentiation between different groups which function as subsets of the societal organism. These subsets are the different organs and tissues of the societal organism.
According to Durkheim these subsets still hold some consciousness common to the whole societal organism otherwise these parts wouldn’t be held together and certain factions would separate from others. Cohesion is the tenet that maintains that a collective consciousness holds all of these subsets or organs together and in turn maintains these organs within the social organism.
In Durkheim’s book “On The Division of Labor” Durkheim explained that punishing heinous crimes such as murder invokes a certain cohesion among the members of the society. Also events such as war function to demonstrate the cohesiveness and solidarity of society. For example in World War...