The concept of functionalism appears in various sciences and branches of art to name the current announcing the preponderance of formal and utilitarian components . The term can therefore refer to a doctrine of architecture, a school of linguistics or a movement of psychology, to name a few cases.
In general, it can be said that functionalism is a school of social sciences , whose origin dates back to the 1930s. This theory It is linked to thinkers like French Émile Durkheim and the Americans Talcott Parsons and Robert Merton , among others.
From the point of view of the psychology , functionalism is influenced by the American pragmatism and evolutionism (emerged in the late nineteenth century in the United States). He strongly opposed structuralism and raised the study of the mind from the functions that each individual developed and not from the structure of the mind (as structuralism did). In functionalism, we studied especially our interaction with the environment, the behaviors we have and the effects they cause in our respective environments. William James, James R. Angell, and John Dewey They are the most prominent authors within this psychological current.
In linguistics This current is led by André Martinet, one of the founders of the International Society for Functional Linguistics (SILF), which laid the foundations of linguistic functionalism .
The cornerstone of functionalism is the principle of relevance , that is to say that to carry out the study of any object a point of view is needed. Once this point of view is taken, the study begins to be carried out focusing on the area that corresponds to linguistics and leaving aside those aspects that must be studied by other disciplines.
The study of language from a functional point of view also requires the observation and respect for each of the facts of study. The result of all this is to instigate about the function of the language in all its aspects and establish theories that help to set the guidelines of knowledge within this discipline.
The functionalist movement has as its main characteristic a vision that focuses on the empirical and in the importance of practical work. This favored the development of disciplines such as scientific anthropology , with specialists who were dedicated to travel around the world to develop their work directly in the field of study.
The theory of functionalism is based on the systems theory and assumes that the organization of the society in a system it requires the resolution of four essential questions: the control of tensions, the adaptation to an environment, the search for a common objective and the integration of the different social classes.
In the communication Sciences , the functionalist theory arises at the beginning of twentieth century . According to this conception, the media intends to generate some kind of effect on the person who receives the message, so they seek persuasion. These receivers also have certain requirements that the media have to meet.