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Meanwhile, a simple example of the application of functionalist theory taken from one of Durkheim’s own works, called The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (Durkheim 1976 [1912]). In this work he drew on the first major field studies collected by anthropologists Spencer and Gillen (1899), who studied the Australian Arunta. The Arunta also belong to much larger groups, called clans. Each Arunta clan consists of people who believe themselves to be a distant common ancestor – that is, they consider themselves to be related. On rare but important occasions, the whole of the clan (including members of many different bands) gathers to worship the totem. In addition, during their day-to-day life as band members, whenever they come across their particular totem they treat with reverence – as kind of sacred objects. Talcott Parsons was a functionalist sociologist who believed in the sick role and had also found it very important. Parsons believed the Sick role theory is a way of explaining the particular rights and responsibilities of those who are ill. Since those who are diagnosed with a medical condition cannot always continue with their same duties, i.e. work, school etc. society adapts and allows a reasonable amount of deviation from the typical behavior of a well person.Talcott Parsons believed that there were four aspects of the sick role. Although Parsons had strong beliefs and had saw the sick role as a form of deviance as people are expected to be productive members of society. Talcott Parsons also said if an ill person is not able to carry out their usual duties the deviant behavior needs to be sanctioned by a medical expert to certify that a person is actually ill, therefore legitimatizing their illness.The four aspects according to Parsons the sick person has rights and obligations to fulfil are firstly the sick person is not at fault for being sick, secondly, the sick person is excused from usual (everyday) responsibilities. Thirdly, the sick person must get well as soon as possible and lastly, the sick person needs to seek and submit to appropriate medical care.


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