Structural Functionalism and Yard Sales


Yard sale, also known as Garage or rummage sale is an event which involves the sale of used goods or items by individual owners (Mangam 9). Examples of goods which are sold during the event include household items like furniture, sports and farm equipment among others. The individuals may sale the goods due to various reasons. For example, a person may want to move to another residence or may just want to clear old equipments from his or her house.

Some of the items may be new while others may be old. The event is usually publicized though various media so that potential buyers or customers may be made aware. The goods do not have fixed prices and for this reason, bargaining is usually very common. Some buyers may buy the items for use while others may buy them for sale at a profit (Pohl and Pohl 34).

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Structural functionalism can be defined as sociological theory which views society as a system composed of various parts which are interrelated, and function together in harmony, for the stability and benefit of the whole. The theory uses the analogy of the human body, which is composed of various organs like the heart, the lungs, eyes, nose among others.

Each part or organ of the body plays a specific role. If one part dysfunctions, then the whole body is affected. For example, if our eyes cannot see well, then the whole body is affected because the legs for example may not walk, without being guided by the eyes on what direction to move to (Harrington, Marshall and Muller 602).

The theory makes some assumptions in explaining the functioning of systems. One of the assumptions is that all systems operate in a way that is aimed at maintaining equilibrium. Yard sales can be seen as an event which involves two parties; one being the person who sales the goods and the other being the one who buys them. The disposal of those goods by one person plays the role of helping another person possess the same, thereby maintaining equilibrium in terms of ownership of the goods (Ritzer 40).

The other assumption of the theory is that systems are composed of various interdepended units, each with a specific role to play for the benefit of the whole. Yard sales involve people selling goods which they may not attach a lot of value to. Even though the goods may be of less value to them, it does not mean that they are useless because somebody else may purchase and use them for a beneficial purpose.

The exchange of the goods with the money enables the seller to use the money obtained from the sales for other purposes, which could not have been met using the goods or items themselves (Ritzer 40).

The other assumption of the theory is that systems operate under the principle of consensus between various units. Yard sales involve exchange of ownership of goods from one person to the other, not through coercion or conflict, but through consensus, in which the owner of the goods advertise the sale and those who are willing or interested in purchasing them do so at their free will.

The sale itself involves bargaining, which is aimed at reaching consensus between the buyer and the seller. Whatever the price they agree is therefore based on consensus and therefore no individual feels as if he or she gets a raw deal (Ritzer 40).

Works Cited

Harrington Austin, Marshall Barbara and Muller Hans-Peter. Encyclopedia of Social Theory. New York, NY: Routledge Publishers., 2006.602.

Mangam, Bryan. The Essential Guide to a Successful Garage Sale. Raleigh, NC: Publishers., 2007.9.

Pohl Irma and Pohl. Rummage, Tag & Garage Sales: Nine Easy Steps to Turn Rummage into Cash. New York, NY: Mary Ellen Family Books., 1984.34.

Ritzer George. Sociological Theory. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill., 2000.40.


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