Functionalist view of the formation of youth subcultures
Functionalists see society as being based on shared values – individuals must feel integrated into society. If people are not integrated, they will be isolated anomie will result. Functionalists see youth as a transitional stage from childhood to adulthood. Talcott Parsons sees youth as being an important stage in capitalist society – in other cultures children becoming adults would go through a “rite of passage” to prove their adulthood. However, the development of capitalism created a divide between the role of the family and the specialised requirements of a workplace. This requires a period of training and socialisation for young people that wasn’t required in previous economic systems where they can learn skills that they would not have learned in the family
The expansion of compulsory education and training filled the gap, now education includes a period of time that would in the past have been considered “adult”. Youth is an important stage where an individual must learn to leave the security of the family and become an independent person in terms of occupational status and marriage. Individuals have to break their ties with their parents Youths start to become independent from their parents, by sometimes getting part time jobs, and spending more and more time away from their families, and developing skills like money management.
Eisenstadt (1956) Youth culture can also provide a safe outlet for the tensions that the transition from childhood to adulthood might bring – allowing young people a safe space to let off steam, find their opinions and let their frustrations out Saw youth culture as a way of bringing young people into society – during the phase between childhood and adulthood a person may feel isolated, and this could bring about anomie. Youth culture is a way of allowing the young person to feel included in a group – it provides a set of shared norms and values for the person – and a sense of belonging. This is an important way of testing boundaries, experimenting and reinforcing acceptable norms and values – so this ultimately contributes to the social order
Evaluation of Functionalist View Functionalists were generalising about youth culture as a whole, and did not account for individual subcultural differences between youths. Subcultures based on social class, gender, and ethnicity were not considered by functionalists. Most of the evidence used by functionalists cam from white, middle class American males – and so was not representative of youth subcultures developing in different ethnic groups/social classes.