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Social Integration

  Integration, the question of how the various elements in society hold together, is one of the central problems of classical sociology. It is a particularly salient concept for the branch of sociology known as functionalism. The term is used in a number of ways. In one sense it is used to refer to the extent to which an individual experiences a sense of belonging to a social group as a consequence of sharing its norms, values and beliefs. Integration, used in this sense, was a key concept in the sociology of Durkheim, it was particularly important for his study of suicide.

Integration is also applied to the functionalist analysis of social institutions. Here it refers to the extent to which the activities or functions of social institutions complement rather than contradict each other. Functionalist sociology believes that societies are social systems of interdependent parts, and should be studied in terms of the contribution the various parts make to the smooth running of the whole.

Integration may also be used to refer to the process by which different races come to have closer social, economic and political relationships. DA

See also assimilation; community; consensus theory; culture; ethnicity; internalization; rationalization; religion; social control; socialization; social order; society; state; urbanism/urbanization.Further reading D. Lockwood, ‘Social Integration and System Integration’, in , G.K. Zollschan and , W. Hirsch (eds.), Explorations in Social Change.



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