Functionalism and its Affiliation with Trump’s Nacirema

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This paper is aimed to shed light on explaining learned knowledge on general sociology and give short reflection of the given picture and its relationship with sociological perspectives. Sociological theories help us to uncover the picture, but here it is also necessity to use some articles to illustrate better case. During explanation of the paper I will use the article by Horace Miner Nacirema as a case and example to explain the picture more broadly.

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I chose this picture for two reasons. First, of all to connect it to the reading which I mentioned above Nacirema which talks about American society. Secondly, as we see here President of the United States is depicted as a main figure in the picture. The president will be used to explain the functionalism theory in a practical sense. 

        Before going in to further paragraphs one may find it essential to give a definition of functionalism theory formerly linking the topic with examples. As one of the influential sociologists, Emil Durkheim explains the theory of functionalism as individual motivations and performance.  It deals with describing the essence of the object or person and its role. Usually, sociologists use the functionalist perspective in four ways to highlight the importance of:

  1. how social systems function
  2. how they transform and stay constant
  3. in what way they produce consequences
  4. And how consequences interact with structural necessities or cultural standards. If a consequence is it supports one or more necessities or standards, and it is dysfunctional while it affects them.

           To start with the first aim of the paper one might be interested in knowing the meaning of the word Nacirema because of its distinct nature. While I was reading this text for me it appeared to be like a fairy tale with an interesting concept on rituals of the unknown for me, a community of people, until I reached halfway through the text. I realized that if you spell Nacirema backward it can be read as American. The whole story then turns out to be a sociological view of North American people and their usual rituals. He describes this society obsessed with rituals and everyday habits with regards to the narcissism of the people in general. Moreover, there is a description of a shrine where those obsessions are mostly practiced. Shrine here described as a home or places where usually people spend most of their time such as home, hospital, shopping mall etc.

         One of the daily rituals they perform is the brief rite of ablution (cleaning the body, washing hands) with holy water. The holy water comes from a community Water Temple. It is simply taking a shower. In addition, he divides rituals done by man such as scraping and lacerating the surface of the face with a sharp instrument or shaving. In the case of women as part of their rituals, they bake their heads in small ovens for about an hour or hairstyling in a beauty salon.

           Besides that, ill people of this society visit a temple latipso or hospital (although there is not h) to check their health. To check their teeth Nacirema people make a couple visits to holy mouth man (dentist). The author tries to illustrate the current American health system by giving an example of sick people that if you do not praise the hospital in this case with money then nobody even looks at your state of being.

         Personally, according to text for me the Nacirema culture described as a barbarian and obsessed with narcissism. Taking into an account functionalism theory one might say that the Nacirema people spent a lot of time on rituals. Rituals play and take an enormous time which symbolizes it as a function to make those people self-loved and barbaric. A function of rituals which are performed daily brings a meaning to their life.

         After grasping general meaning of the text, one might be interested in the links between picture and the text. The text is about the Americans and their vanish behavior like the Donald Trump being part of such a community who is in the picture is the main character. He is one of the main decision makers of Nacirema culture regarding shrines and temples which they visit on a daily basis. It is his function, on the other hand, to control and build a fair life condition to all Nacirema people such as social care, education, healthcare, economy, market etc.

         Moreover, as the picture depicts Trump acting as an upper hand by giving a speech to the public backed up by native Americans.  The author describes that ritually existed life of the Nacirema people has been like a magic-ridden people because it is hard to believe that functions of such rituals existed for such a long time. The similar views can be applied to President Trump and his lack of performing his function as a president of the country still stays constant despite high criticism by the people who are consequences of such function. Before entering the oval shrine (oval room, White House) he claimed to fix the functions of the president by Make America Great Again  but taking a look at his mouth he only managed to go to holy mouth man.

             In previous paragraphs, we have discussed three main aspects such as Horace Miner’s text on Nacirema, a theory of functionalism and the function of the president, in this case, Donald Trump in the state. From the text, we grabbed the sense of American culture and daily rituals which may eventually cause dysfunction of the system. In addition, we discovered the importance of functionalist perspective from the point of a sociologist. The distinct nature of the functionalist perspective is that it brings a clear explanation of the matter as it was used to describe the picture. Moreover, we used this theory to illustrate the case of the presidency, particularly Donald Trump’s function as a president of the state.

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Functionalism and its Affiliation with Trump's Nacirema. (2020, Apr 15). Retrieved February 2, 2023 , from

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