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DYNAMIC FUNCTIONALISM:
STRATEGY AND TACTICS
Michael A. Faia
College of William & Mary
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
1984; rev. 2005Page 2 of 243
For Nina, Gus, Lucille, and Wanell
Solo asi he de irme?
Como las flores que perecieron?
Nada quedara en mi nombre?
Nada de mi fama aqui en la tierra?
Al menos flores, al menos cantos!
—Cantos de HuexotzingoPage 3 of 243
CONTENTS
List of Tables and Figures
Preface
Part I. Allegations, Definitions, and Illustrations
Chapter 1. A Kindly Critique of Kingsley Davis
(1) Entanglements of Teleology
(2) Methodological Inhibitions
(3) The Logic of Indispensability
Chapter 2. The Incest Taboo: Social Selection
as a Form of Feedback
Chapter 3. Exemplary Exercises in Survivorship
(1) Years in School
(2) Congressional Tenure
(3) Duration of Marriage
Chapter 4. The Nature, Determinants and Consequences
of Time-Series Processes
(1) Patterns of Change Within Stability
(2) The Stabilities and Instabilities
of Malthus and Marx
Part II. Adaptive Structures and Social Processes
Chapter 5. Patterns of Adaptation
(1) The Subtleties of Circularity
(2) An Almanac of Adaptations, With Helps
(3) Evolving Taxonomies
(4) Positive Feedback and Social CatastrophismPage 4 of 243
Chapter 6. Processes, Simulations, and Investigations
(1) A Primer on Time-Series Analysis
(2) Malefactions Marxist and Otherwise,
With Hope
Part III. L'envoi
Chapter 7. Toward an Integrated Social Science Paradigm
(1) Value-Added Aspects of Social Science Theories
(2) Theory, Methods, and the Single Paradigm
Appendix. Snafu and Synecdoche: Historical Continuities
in Functional Analysis
Footnotes
ReferencesPage 5 of 243
Table of Pages
Introduction .................................... Page 9 of 243
Part I. Allegations, Definitions, and Illustrations ....... Page 14 of 243
Chapter 1. A Kindly Critique of Kingsley Davis ........ Page 15 of 243
Entanglements of Teleology ................. Page 18 of 243
Methodological Inhibitions .................. Page 27 of 243
The Languid Logic of Indispensability ......... Page 31 of 243
Chapter 2. The Incest Taboo: Social Selection as a Form of Feedback
...................................... Page 37 of 243
Chapter 3. Exemplary Exercises in Survivorship ........ Page 51 of 243
Years in School ..........................
Congressional Tenure ...................... Page 52 of 243
Duration of Marriage Page 57 of 243
Chapter 4. Time-Series Processes: Nature, Determinants, Consequences
...................................... Page 70 of 243
Patterns of Change Within Stability ............ Page 72 of 243
The Stabilities and Instabilities of Malthus and Marx
................................. Page 76 of 243
Part II. Adaptive Structures and Social Processes ...... Page 83 of 243
Chapter 5. Patterns of Adaptation .................. Page 84 of 243
The Subtleties of Circularity ................. Page 88 of 243
An Almanac of Adaptations, With Helps ........ Page 93 of 243
Evolving Taxonomies ...................... Page 99 of 243
Positive Feedback and Social Catastrophism .... Page 104 of 243
Chapter 6. Processes, Simulations, Investigations ...... Page 112 of 243
A Primer on Time-Series Analysis ............
Malefactions Marxist and Otherwise, With Hope
................................ Page 135 of 243
Part III. L'envoi ............................... Page 145 of 243
Chapter 7. Toward an Integrated Social Science Paradigm
..................................... Page 146 of 243
Value-Added Aspects of Social Science Theories Page 148 of 243
Theory, Methods, and the Single Paradigm ..... Page 155 of 243
Appendix .................................... Page 167 of 243
Snafu and Synecdoche: Historical Continuities in Functional
Analysis .........................
Notes ....................................... Page 208 of 243
References ................................... Page 218 of 243Page 6 of 243
List of Tables
[Not available online. For tables, contact the author.]
Table 1. Conditions threatening the survivorship of social
organizations
Table 2. Comparison of functionalist and politico-military
terminology regarding termination of social organization
Table 3. Expected years in school at each age, United States,
1950-52 and 1957-59
Table 4. Tenure-expectancy table: seventy-fifth Congress,
freshman members
Table 5. Duration of marriage in life-table format,
representative cohort of 1000 marriages ending in divorce, United
States, 1887-1906 (based on 900,584 cases)
Table 6. Divorces by classified cause, libellant, and duration of
marriage, by states and territories, 1887-1906 (single years)
Table 7. Adaptation theories and hypotheses: some illustrations
Table 8. ARIMA process for an interrupted time series, single
autoregression term
Table 9. ARIMA process for an interrupted time series, two
autoregression terms
Table 10. Regression of ARIMA 2,1,0 residuals on a "spike"
variable representing time
Table 11. Regression of interrupted time series on a "dummy"
variable representing timePage 7 of 243
Table 12. Regression of interrupted time series on linear time
and a "dummy" variable representing time
Table 13. Economic stagnation and military spending
Table 14. Unemployment and defense spending
Table 15. A hypothetical Guttman scale of sociological
propositionsPage 8 of 243
List of Figures
[Not available online. For figures, contact the author.]
Figure 1. Comparison of survival rates for separation and
divorce, United States, 1887-1906 (based on 900,584 cases)
Figure 2. Comparison of marital survival rates for Arkansas,
Iowa, and Massachusetts, 1887-1906
Figure 3. The elementary causal structure of a complete
functional explanation
Figure 4. Projection of U.S. population toward a stable
five-year growth rate, 1977 to 2127
Figure 5. Illustration of an interrupted time series
Figure 6. Autocorrelation functions of an interrupted time series
Figure 7. Autocorrelation functions of the residuals of an
interrupted time series subjected to an ARIMA process
Figure 8. Time-series plot of ARIMA residuals with a "spike"
representing an interruption of the series
Figure 9. Sinusoid illustration of a perfect adaptation process
Figure 10. Scattergram of the relationship between cosine
function and sine function after pi/2 time units
Figure 11. Scattergram of the relationship between sine function
and cosine function after pi/2 time unitsPage 9 of 243
Introduction
The thesis of this book is that Kingsley Davis, in his famous presidential
address before the American Sociological Association (1959), was mistaken in the
claim that all sociologists are functionalists and that the functionalist paradigm is
basically unsound. Using explanations of the incest taboo as an example, I argue
in the first two chapters that functionalism has unique elements that are not fully
exploited by most social scientists, and that this uniqueness has to do largely with
the way the functionalist model focuses on the survivability of social organizations
as they age.
Chapter 3 contends that the stable population model, specifically the life
table, provides a way of analyzing one of the major dependent variables of
functionalism--the survivorship of social organizations--and that, because the
stable population model is a means of understanding population dynamics,
functional analysis based on the model is inherently dynamic, i.e., oriented to the
study of social change.
Chapter 4 shows that the major prolegomenon of any functional analysis is
to trace the behavior of relevant variables through time: if there is insufficient
variability ("noise"), there is an insufficient basis for functional analysis. Using the
Club of Rome world model as an example, I show that the functionalist paradigm
readily comprehends the vast amount of change implied by the model, that the
Club of Rome thesis is a clear instance of Marxian catastrophism, and that there is
therefore no strong incompatibility between functional analysis and Marxist
analysis.
Chapters 5 and 6, comprising Part II, provide copious illustrations of
dynamic functionalism followed by a brief introduction to time-series analysis. It
becomes clear in these chapters that, for the present, dynamic functionalism is
more readily illustrated by contrived data than by real data: the latter, in general,
are far too static, i.e., far too likely to be essentially cross-sectional.
Part III concludes that functionalist propositions ought to be considered
the summum bonum of the social scientific endeavor, and arrives at the ironicalPage 10 of 243
conclusion that, insofar as Kingsley Davis argued that functionalism is indeed the
summum bonum of the sociological enterprise, he was entirely correct. The
problem is that the lofty spheres of functional sociology are rarely attained, due in
part to our tendency to waste energy on paradigm disputes. The appendix,
essentially a supplement to chapter 1, argues that the celebrated shortcomings of
earlier functionalists, from Malthus to Parsons, do not inhere in the functionalist
paradigm itself but derive rather from the various idiosyncrasies of its practitioners.
* * * * *
John Gottman (l981:44-45) begins his excellent treatise on time-series
analysis with an "overview" in which he lists a series of questions that he promises
to answer. I have a similar list, although I make no claim of having fulfilled my
promises as thoroughly and convincingly as Gottman:
(1) To what extent can structural features of social
organizations be explained with reference to actors'
intentions, and, on the contrary, what are the
circumstances under which intentions have little impact
on social structures?
(2) What is the probability that a given type of social
organization will survive over a given period of time,
and what are the structural and environmental factors
that influence survival prospects?
(3) What are the survival prospects of individuals as
possessors of given status-roles--e.g., the role of
student or the role of congressman--and what are the
structural features of organizations and environments
that influence these prospects?
(4) What are the survival prospects of small social
entities such as marital units, and how are these
prospects influenced by "internal" and "external"
structural features--for instance, the presence of
children from earlier marriages?
(5) What are the fundamental social variables that
provide significant time-series variation, and is it
possible to classify these variables as exemplifying
stationarity or as departing from stationarity due to
trend, due to changes in degree of variability, or due