Definition of functionalism in US English:

functionalism

noun

  • 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.

    • ‘Aesthetic functionalism reinforced a growing preference for useful memorials, such as public halls, hospitals and swimming pools, over grand but useless statues.’
    • ‘Communications consultant Emma Kelly looked to what she describes as ‘the elegant functionalism of the 1950s’ when it came to choosing her object of desire.’
    • ‘The cafe occupies the hanging gallery above the exhibition space and echoes its monochrome theme with Fifties functionalism - lots of white Arne Jacobsen-style ‘Ameise’ chairs, white walls and a black floor.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Moreover, where Futurism and functionalism shared common ground, the cultural components in their assessment of flight must also be noted.’
    • ‘He brought these disparate objects together to demonstrate their kinship and identify their aesthetics as one with their functionalism.’
    • ‘While her work features the austerity and functionalism of Modernism, it somehow seems softer, more human and witty.’
    • ‘Architects have rich thoughts on function and functionalism derived from their experiences, but I have not seen these codified.’
    • ‘With few exceptions, functionalism in Sweden was a matter of aesthetics, not of ideology.’
    • ‘One modest request: your philosophy of craft-based functionalism serving humanity would be greatly enhanced if you included more typical details.’
    • ‘This compression, however, led Futurism and functionalism to opposing perspectives on the modern world and the direction in which it was heading.’
  • 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.

    • ‘A quick-and-dirty history of social systems theory begins with functionalism, the most influential form of social explanation for much of the past century.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In the 1950s and the 1960s, as an offshoot of the sociological functionalism of Talcott Parsons, theories of modernization and neo-evolutionism dominated the social science study of development.’
  • 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.

    • ‘It is no accident that the play is set in the eighties, when the arguments between beleaguered humanism and pragmatic functionalism were at the very height.’
    • ‘It differs from Skinner's functionalism in that it accepts the possibility that there are mental processes that cannot be seen directly.’
    • ‘The first, intentionally dry, title of my talk, is in parody of the sober, positivistic titles one got in the heyday of British structural functionalism.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This volume of Ned Block's writings collects his papers on consciousness, functionalism, and representationism.’
    • ‘Searle saddles functionalism with the ‘blackbox’ character of behaviorism, but functionalism cares how things are done.’
    • ‘So, unlike the identity theory, functionalism ends up disallowing mind/body causation.’
    • ‘Sometimes intentionalism and functionalism are associated, on the grounds that intentional states are the only mental states of which one could give a functionalist account, so a functionalist should be an intentionalist.’
    • ‘Now, it seems that these two positions, functionalism about truth and Davidson's thesis, are quite compatible.’

Pronunciation

functionalism

/ˈfəNG(k)SH(ə)nlˌizəm//ˈfəŋ(k)ʃ(ə)nlˌɪzəm/