Friday Night Lights: Structure Functional Theory

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Functionalism views society as the stability and assimilation of a range of forces that function within it. While society is a separate entity with a life of its own, there are individual elements contributing to that stability. Functionalism as a sociological theory emphasizes assimilation rather than the dissociation of society. Therefore, the society is seen as a whole that is compromised of parts which give one another their identity and their function. The part, whether that is education, such as a school, or sports, such as a football team, operates in relation to the other parts, and cannot be entirely understood in isolation from the other parts. All the parts are interrelated, and when there is a disturbance in any one of the parts, is when you can see the interdependence. But what is important about this theory is that “there will always be some reorganization and tendency to restore equilibrium” (Wallace and Wolf 17). Functionalist do not believe it’s crucial that the people involved in the society to be aware of this interconnectedness anymore than the brain and heart consciously realize that they work together as an organism. In Friday Night Lights we see the theory of functionalism not only in the team, but the town and its dream of solidarity through winning the state championship. In a small town, such as Odessa, Texas, high school football helps to keep the town together by keeping it alive. On Friday nights, when the flood lights turn on inside the Permian stadium the strength of Odessa seems dependent on what will occur in that football stadium. Businesses shut down; families and community come together within the constraints of this stadium to cheer their team onto victory. Thus during football season, litt... ... middle of paper ... ... within the community and learning what is expected of them as they grow up. We see this in Friday Night Lights as the team fights against all odds to bring home the state championship. The kids on this team grew up learning the importance of football in their community. They were surrounded by the symbols, such as the stadium, the games, and the talk of football. They took on these values and learned what was expected of them as they grew up and became old enough to play football. From there they learned to condition their bodies and minds in order to win football games. Parsons system levels exhibits the interdependence of each one in order for them to work. The systems create equilibrium and function and while in the end the Permian Panthers do not take home the state championship, they display how Parsons system’s theory took them as far as it did.
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