Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Latent Function of Funeral

Latent Function of Funeral
One of latent function of funeral is to provide a break in the routine for those who attend, although most people will argue that they rather have the deceased back among the living than use the funeral as an excuse to have a family reunion.

In the process of bringing people together, a funeral also serves the latent function of reinforcing the solidarity of the group.

Members of the typical American middle-class family often are scattered throughout the city, state, and even the country, making close contact difficult and family gatherings relatively rare occurrence.

However, the funeral offers the family chance to get together (weddings serve the same purpose). A funeral can also have the latent function of raising another person to a higher social position.

When someone does, the position he or she held is vacated and must be filled by someone else. A son, for example, might be called upon to take an active role in the funeral, or he might at least be mentioned by the clergyman who performs the ceremony – a subtle hint that he has a new role to fill.

Finally, a funeral can help alleviate the fear of death. Those who participate in ceremony become aware of their concern for the decease, and in the process they convinces themselves that, as they have not forgotten the deceased , they will not be forgotten by their friends and relatives when they are gone.

Of course, it might be difficult to get most people to admit they had any of these feelings when they attended a funeral, which is one reason anthropologists stress the importance of studying the latent functions of social behavior as well as its manifest functions.

Only by analyzing what, to the objective and impartial observer, people appear to be doing, as well as what they think or say they are doing, can we get a full and clear picture of how a society work.

The functions of various institutions cannot be limited to those listed by the people involved, for as we have seen in the example funeral, there are many more functions that are obvious to outside observers.

To ignore these functions would be to ignore a large portion of the structure of society.
Latent Function of Funeral
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