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Concept used particularly in structural functionalist terminology. The idea is that the different parts of a society (rituals, institutions, statuses, lineages) work to maintain the connectedness and integration of society as a whole (see also dysfunction). For the structural functionalists, society's ability to maintain or "reproduce" itself over time was an extremely important insight, and these authors have at times tended to take the self-maintenance of society for granted. Later anthropologists (see process analysis, neo-marxism, postmodernism) have pointed out that the structural functionalists may have underestimated the degree to which societies are not harmoniously integrated, and change over time. The underlying insight - that societies are often systematically (if not always harmoniously) integrated - has, however, remained as part of the foundation of anthropology as a subject. In modern anthropology, variants of functionalism find use particularly in ecologically and cybernetically oriented analyses. (See Rappaport 1977).