Tuesday, March 3, 2009

How to gain by making function latent

In his analysis of manifest and latent functions, Robert Merton explains how often individuals are largely unaware of the latent functions of a behavior. This lack of awareness offers opportunities both to individuals and to cultures as a whole. An example of the former would be if a male and female friend go shopping for hats with the manifest function of obtaining headwear, but the latent function is so that the male can get closer to the female with the intention of turning female friend into girlfriend. The man may not even be aware that is what he really intends, but even if he was, it might work counter to his interest if the woman were aware, especially if the woman were not particularly open to his approach. Therefore, in this case, the male benefits from the function being latent rather than manifest.

What are some other examples of functions being made latent rather than manifest in order to benefit certain individuals, groups, or society as a whole?

1 comment:

  1. A similar case happened to me at school. I was very hungry and one of my classmates invited me to get something to eat becuse he has hungry as well. The manifest function was to get something to eat, but what i did not know was that he just wanted to spend time with me and scale to another level passing friendship, which is the latent function. He wanted to benefit with the fact that i was hungry to get closer to me(it did'nt work!!).