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By Shaun Best
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Extra info for A beginner's guide to social theory
The elements which make up the system have no given period of life; everything must be continually reproduced. Without the capacity to generate its own independence from the environment, the social system would cease to exist. As Luhmann explains: `System differentiation is nothing more than the repetition of system formation within systems' (Luhmann, 1995: 18). 38 Functionalist Perspectives Differentiation is a principle which makes the system harmonious, it provides the system with its systematicity.
On a sociological level, Durkheim wanted to show that wider social forces were at work, and that the causes of suicide were not only of a personal nature. However, at the outset we have to say that Durkheim had a rather odd de®nition of suicide: the term suicide is applied to all cases of death resulting directly or indirectly from a positive or negative act of the victim himself, which he knows will produce this result. An attempt is an act thus de®ned but falling short of actual death. (Durkheim, 1952: 44) Durkheim's four types of suicide Following his own rules of the sociological method, Durkheim attempted to classify suicides and came up with four logical possibilities.
Eddie Cuff and colleagues have classi®ed pattern variables as follows: (p. C. Cuff, C. Payne, D. Francis, D. W. Sharrock). The process of modernisation was the transition from pattern variables A to pattern variables B: from the simple/traditional society to the complex industrial society. In the eyes of many people Parsons had `oversolved the problem of order' within the social system. This means that Parsons found it dif®cult to explain why a social system should change when everyone had a function and every function had a purpose, and all the people were socialised into a common value system.