One of the major theoretical perspectives in sociology is functionalism. Functionalism originates from the works of Emile Durkheim. Emile Durkheim was interested in understanding how the society is able to remain relatively stable. He wanted to understand the social order. Functionalism, therefore, focuses on the external environment of the society as opposed to the internal social structure. One of the earliest levels of functionalism can be traced back to 350 BCE. This was when Aristotle wrote his theory of the soul. He argued that the soul of a human being is a form of the natural organized human body, meaning it has the powers to express its “whatness”. Aristotle referred this as the matter of fulfilling its purpose or function. The rise of functionalism gave way to the rise clinical, industrial, and applied psychology (Isajiw, 2013).

            According to functionalism, the existence of institutions is only meant to serve a particular purpose. If it fails to perform this purpose, then the institution is bound to fail and other institutions will be created to solve it. An example is the function of the government in some of the societies. The government is supposed to provide education to the children of the citizens. In turn, the government receives taxes from citizens, from which it is able to sustain itself and meet its expenses.  On the other hand, citizens expect that the education provided to their children will enable them to get good jobs, from which they will support their families, raise children, and become law-abiding citizens to pay taxes to support the government. Judging from the functional perspective point of view, this coexistence between the government and the citizens creates a positive, productive, stable and orderly society (Crossman, 2017).

            Has applying these psychological practices to make the human being more productive been healthy? This is a question that bothers both the critics and the supporters of functionalism. The industry today is busy designing, implementing, and analyzing psychological research. The psychological practices have assisted organizational progress a great deal. They include the identification of training and development needs, optimization of the quality of the work life, coaching of employees and organizational leaders and assessing consumer references. They have also assisted organizations in the development criteria to evaluate the performance of individuals and organizations. The practices have been healthy in that employees have got the opportunity to realize their leadership potential, and improved their working life while the shareholders have benefited a lot from the improvement in the profit of the organizations (Isajiw, 2013).

The critics of psychology are also asking whether the focus of psychology is to create a smarter, more productive human. One of the major goals of psychology is to change. Psychology strives to change, to influence, and to control the behavior of human beings. By doing this, it is able to make constructive changes to the human behavior and finally create a smarter, more productive human being. For example, psychologists can use a good behavior of some employees in a company to influence and change others for the betterment of the organization (Cherry, 2017).

In conclusion, functionalism is one of the major perspectives of psychology. Functionalism is also a major contributor to the rise of clinical, industrial and applied psychology. The application of psychological practices in order to become more productive is healthy. In an industry, some of the methods utilized to make workers healthy include training, optimization of the workers’ life and coaching of employees and organizations’ leaders. This has assisted stakeholders in the organizations to improve their leadership skills and the profits of the organization. On the other hand, its focus is to make people more productive. This can be achieved by focusing on its major goal of change.


Cherry, K. (2017). What Are the 4 Goals of Psychology? Very well. Retrieved 12 October 2017, from

Crossman, A. (2017). Everything You Need to Know About Functionalist TheoryThoughtCo. Retrieved 12 October 2017, from

Isajiw, W. (2013). Causation and Functionalism in Sociology. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

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