Unit Outline
Introduction to Structural/Functional Analysis

Structural-Functional Approach: This approach allows comparison between political systems (current and historical). The approach reminds us that different institutions might carry out differing functions within different political systems. For example, if we compare American political parties with political parties in France or Germany, we might make a "laundry list" of comparisons and conclude that American parties are "better" or "worse"--but we might forget that the political parties in these countries carry out different functions. Structural functionalism reminds us of that by insisting that the comparison focus on what functions parties do and do not carry out within a particular system.


I.                    Why We Compare

A.     View a Wider Range of Political Alternatives

B.     Understand virtues and shortcomings of our own system

C.     Develop explanations and test hypothesis of ways in which political processes work

D.     Understand the conditions for political change

E.      Impossible to conduct controlled experiments

II.                 What We Compare

A.     Political Propensities

1.      Civic Culture

2.      Ideology

B.     Political Functions

1.      System

a.       articulation

b.      socialization

c.       recruitment

2.      Process

a.       aggregation

b.      policy-making

c.       adjudication

3.      Policy

a.       extraction

b.      distribution

c.       regulation

C.     Political Structure

1.      Institutional Distribution of Power

a.       Authoritarian

b.      Democratic

2.      Geographic Distribution of Authority

a.       confederal

b.      federal

c.       unitary

3.      Structural Separation of Power

a.       Presidential

b.      Presidential/Parliamentary

c.       Parliamentary

4.      Legislative Structure

a.       unicameral

b.      bicameral

5.      Electoral System

a.       plurality (FPTP)

b.      proportional

c.       mixed

6.      Bureaucracy

a.       professional

b.      political