Sociology/Social Anthropology

Functionalism is a sociological macro-perspective based on the concept of consensus.

That is to say, "macro-perspective" because it focuses on society as a whole rather than on the individual, and "consensus" because, as the name suggests, Functionalism is about how social institutions and aspects of society function in relation to one another.

Marxism, while also being a "macro-perspective", is based on the theory of "conflict", meaning that the different facets of society battle one another instead of working in harmony. Symbolic Interactionism is an example of a "micro-perspective", as it focuses on the daily interactions of the individual.

Functionalists believe that everything in society exists in order to perform a specific function. Social institutions such as the family, the school and the workplace have their specific functions, largely in the socialisation of the individual. This concept of many functioning parts making up society as a whole has led to the analogy of the human body; each institution is useless on its own, but comprises an integral part of society. According to Emile Durkheim, the founder of Functionalism, even crime is necessary in society to a certain extent. However, too much crime can bring about a state of "Anomie" or "lawlessness", disrupting the harmony of the functioning society.

Some other notable Functionalists are Talcott Parsons, Kai T. Erikson and Robert Merton.

Source: The Deeper Recesses of My Mind Having Sat Through Two Years of A Level Sociology