Radcliffe-Brown defined social structure as a normal relation in terms of the aspects of the social activities that people were involved in and that also conformed to the social rules or norms. The rules as well as the norms that have been created brings the members of a society together into socially useful activities. According to Radcliffe-Brown societies are structured by the institution that hold them together and an example is family. Family relations is likely to set behavior as well as patterns of the members in relation to each other. An institution will likely to determine how people are expected to behave. Radcliffe Brown argued that as long as a biological organism continued to live then it would help in the preservation of structure however it cannot preserver the unity of the other parts. His focus was more on social structure than the people’s biological needs. Radcliffe-Brown argued that the social structure was made up of a separate level of reality that was different from inorganic matter and biological forms (Radcliffe-Brown, pg. 394-402).
Radcliffe-Brown describes function as the contribution which is a part of an activity that eventually contributes to the total activity of what it is part of. Radcliffe-Brown was mainly concerned with the role of various element in maintenance as well as the development of the social structure. The other way that he uses function is in his theory that all features of a society including norms, roles and institution have a role and that they are all needed for the society to survive in the long run. All these units have a contribution that they make for the maintenance of a social structure for example the set of relationships that exists among the various social units. A group as well as an individual behavior is likely to contribute or serve as a function for the societal structure.
Radcliffe-Brown, Alfred Reginald. “On the concept of function in social science.” American Anthropologist 37.3 (1935): 394-402.
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