Gabriel Almond’s Structural Functional Approach


a) Gabriel Almond’s Structural Functional Approach

The concept function can conveniently be used. Even the word “function” is more comprehensive. He also prefers role to office. during this way Almond has made strenuous efforts to acquaint his readers with the new concepts and he has expressed his intention of doing this.
Elaborating his intention Almond has said: “the look for new concepts isn't a billboard hoc matter. It reflects an underlying drift towards a replacement and coherent way of brooding about and studying politics that's implied in such slogans as behavioural approach…… We aren't simply adding terms to an old vocabulary, but rather are within the process of developing or adapting a replacement one”.

Almond claims that the new terms don't constitute a corpus of conceptual vocabulary but they indicate a replacement dimension of the character of politics . He wants to revolutionise the system and study of politics . Almonds’ conceptualisation process has really revolutionised the politics generally and comparative politics especially .

Origin of Structural Functionalism

Davies and Lewis within the ir noted work writes: “structural functional analysis are often said to possess originated in the biological and mechanical sciences. Within the social sciences it had been first utilized in anthropology and was later developed and refined as a mode of sociological analysis, predominantly by Talcott Parsons”. For clarity and smoothness of thought and analysis we would like to form a really brief survey of the origin.

Emile Durkheim

Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) is treated as “an inheritor of an extended French tradition of social thought”.
Durkheim elaborately analysed the essential structure of society, their various parts, different social systems and he did this in an organismic outlook. Society, consistent with Durkheim, is to be viewed as an entity. There are several parts of any society and every one of them are well-connected.

The parts perform their allotted duties but the parts aren't completely independent on one another . He also viewed that the systems or the parts of the society are quite normal divisions and therefore the functions which they perform also are normal.

Two renowned anthropologists Bronislaw and A. R. Radcliffe-Brown were heavily influenced by the organicism of Durkheim. Radcliffe-Brown (1881-1955) believed that the concept of function applied to human society is predicated on an analogy between social life and organic life.

Characteristics of Political System

Mention has been made that Almond’s analysis has built-up an enormous structure of general systems theory and he has thrown light on the topic from different angle.
According to Almond all the political systems have in common four main charac­teristics. He has also admitted that there could also be minor variations in a number of the characteristics but the most theme remains unaltered.

The characteristics are
(1) There are simple and sophisticated political systems in several parts of the world . The industrialised matured societies of the West have complex political structures where because the developing countries of the Third World have simple structures. Almond’s point is that each one the political systems have political structures.
Even the only political systems have political structures which can be compared with the developed structures of the West. Almond has admitted that the comparison between two sorts of structures might not be completely relevant but they will be compared. Moreover, -the emergence of the new state systems within the Third World encouraged Almond to plan a way which will be helpful for comparison. Here lies the credit of Almond.

2. There could also be differences between the systems and structures but all the systems perform almost same political functions. For the aim of comparative analysis the frequency of the performance are often studied.

3. The political structures could also be specialised, non-specialised or could also be primitive. But thorough study of the varied aspects has revealed that the structures are multi­functional which suggests that though the functions of a specific structure are specifically stated, in practice the structure performs other functions.

For example, the chief function of the court is to adjudicate, but in practice it performs legislative functions. within the same way the legislative wing of the govt has been found to act sort of a court of law. In liberal democracies the pressure groups participate within the legislative function. In both democratic and authoritarian systems the multi­functional character of structure is found.
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4. All political systems are mixed systems within the cultural sense. The culture of any form of government is that the mixture of recent and traditional cultures. From the study of the cultures of varied political systems Almond has found that there cannot exist any all-modern and all-primitive cultures. Even the cultures of primitive political systems are partially moulded by the developed cultures of the West.

Of course there could also be difference of predominance of any particular culture on the cultural aspects of another system. for instance , during British rule Indian society and culture were influenced by British culture. But at an equivalent time British culture and society couldn't keep itself faraway from Indian culture.

However, the share of mixture could also be different in both cases. There also are stages within the process of assimilation. These are the four main characteristics of all the political systems and by checking out the characteristics Almond has made plan to generalise the political systems.

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