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SOC 001 LAVC Social Development Theories and Social Quality Initiative Discussion

Merton’s Functions

Robert Merton, a functionalist, generated a theory about social interaction that has been quite useful in understanding relatively stable patterns within society. Merton saw all social interaction as serving a function, both a manifest function (recognized and intended consequence), and a latent function (unrecognized and unintended consequence). In addition, interactions could serve a social dysfunction – any social pattern that may disrupt the operation of society. (Make sure you apply Merton’s theory to the discussion).

Please provide an analysis of 2 social interactions in which YOU participated, noting the manifest, latent and, a dysfunction associated with it. I have provided an example below of the basic elements – your observation should include some reflection:

Social Interaction

Going to the “Club.”

Manifest function

Go out for entertainment.

Latent function

Reinforces gender roles. By going to the club, we learn what is “normal” in terms of how to act. Men are “supposed to be” more aggressive and women more submissive. This interaction also causes solidarity or social cohesiveness – the feeling of belonging. When we go out we often speak with our friends about what is appropriate to wear, how to act and we feel like a “we” as opposed to just “me”.


The assigned gender roles may harm society. For example, if men are expected to pay for drinks then this creates an interaction that could harm society as men who are poor may be made to feel less “manly”. And men who have money may feel as though having money makes them a “man”. It also makes women at risk of being perceived as “gold diggers” when their appearance ranks them as more desirable and they then use this to maximize expectations of the male role (paying for drinks).

Your observation should be written out as above; include each header (manifest, latent and dysfunction). Please use sociological terms and concepts in your analysis.

You may not use my examples (no gender roles or “the Club”).

This should take NO LONGER than 2 pages (if you double space). Include your name on the top right-hand corner. All submissions will be typed. I cannot open “cloud” submissions — use doc/docx, or pdf files, please.


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