Latent Functions Sociology Help

Latent Functions
These are unintended, unforeseen consequences of institutions. Our economic institutions not only produce and distribute goods,
they also sometimes promote technological change and philanthropy and sometimes promote unemployment and inequality. Educational institutions not only educate youth, they also provide mass entertainment and keep the young out of the labor market and, according to some conflict theorists, protect the children of the rich from 'having to compete with the children of the poor. Government welfare programs not only help the poor, they also provide jobs for middle class personnel. Scientific research not only increases knowledge, it also makes obsolescent many ways of doing things. Latent functions of an institution may (1) support the manifest function, (2) be irrelevant, or (3) may even undermine manifest functions. The latent functions of religious institutions in the United States include offering. recreational activities and courtship opportunities to young people. Most church leaders agree that these activities help churches pursue their manifest function of promoting religious faith and practice. {In fact,  would argue that these activities have become manifest functions.) By contrast, it is doubtful that the sports spectacles staged by schools, and colleges have much effect upon the manifest function of promoting education; instead, they are largely irrelevant to this manifest function. There are also instances where latent functions undermine manifest functions. For instance, the manifest function of civil service regulations is to secure a competent, dedicated staff of public employees to make government more efficient. The latent function of civil service is to establish an entrenched bureaucracy which may protect incompetent employees and frustrate the programs of elected officials. The manifest function of the regulation of drugs by the government is to protect consumers against injurious substances; a latent function is to delay the introduction of new, lifesaving drugs. The manifest function of Western health institutions has been to reduce illness, premature death, and human misery; the latent function has been to promote a population explosion and massive famine in the underdeveloped countries. there are, therefore, many instances in which latent functions might more accurately be termed "latent dysfunctions," since they tend to undermine the institution or to impede attainment of its manifest functions.

Posted on September 3, 2014 in Social and Institutions

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