Definition of functionalism in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈfəNG(k)SH(ə)nlˌizəm/


1Belief in or stress on the practical application of a thing, in particular.
Example sentences
  • Impelled by Futurism and the functionalism of Communist Russia, his Impressionist painting style gave way to pure abstractions drawn with compass and ruler.
  • Does strong representationalism, then, inherit all the usual problems of functionalism about the phenomenal?
  • That belief, in a debased form, mutated into the functionalism of the mid-twentieth century.
1.1(In the arts) the doctrine that the design of an object should be determined solely by its function, rather than by aesthetic considerations, and that anything practically designed will be inherently beautiful.
Example sentences
  • Aesthetic functionalism reinforced a growing preference for useful memorials, such as public halls, hospitals and swimming pools, over grand but useless statues.
  • In what is easily, in my opinion, one of the best essays on contemporary design in recent years, Boym persuasively argues that the days of ‘good design’ based purely on functionalism are squarely in the past.
  • With few exceptions, functionalism in Sweden was a matter of aesthetics, not of ideology.
1.2(In the social sciences) the theory that all aspects of a society serve a function and are necessary for the survival of that society.
Example sentences
  • Regionalism has, however, played a role in subdisciplines that focus on social and economic ties between cities and their hinterlands, such as urban sociology or functionalism or regional economies.
  • The school of social functionalism examines the ways in which society, considered as an organism, attempts to contain and manage conflict, integrating disparate members and subgroups into the whole.
  • Wallace and Wolf trace the development of structural functionalism to Comte, Herbert Spencer, and Durkheim.
1.3(In the philosophy of mind) the theory that mental states can be sufficiently defined by their cause, their effect on other mental states, and their effect on behavior.
Example sentences
  • So, unlike the identity theory, functionalism ends up disallowing mind/body causation.
  • In the metaphysics of mind, too, behavioristic themes survive in the approach to mind known as functionalism.
  • There seem to be only two well-known theories from the history of the philosophy of mind that have not been attributed to him, namely behaviorism and functionalism.



Pronunciation: /ˈfəNG(k)SH(ə)nələst/
noun& adjective
Example sentences
  • Her research suggested that ‘the two originated independently, and that leading functionalists had no special propensity to use surveys and leading surveyors no special propensity for functionalism’.
  • As an invitation to participate in just such a research project, the exhibition eschewed the aesthetic as well as the functionalist pitfalls into which curators who provide static explanatory paradigms might fall.
  • Political leaders, business leaders and the institutions they lead serve as important catalysts for societal change because the two are, in functionalist sociology, mutually inclusive.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: func·tion·al·ism

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