Manifest Functions are resultants of people’s expectation or observation. This understanding of the definition has a relevant meaning for the people and on their actions as well. Rain dance a popular example used by Merton in “Social Theory and Social Structure” which explains that rain dance is an action performed for producing rain. An outcome of this is what the ritual intends to obtain and also a mutual desire exhibited by the people participating in the ritualistic rain dance. Latent Function in comparison to Manifest Function relates to the conceptual idea of functions that are neither intentional nor recognized. Furthermore, latent functions in explanation of behavior do not necessarily need an explanation, any form of recognition or to be intentional by the participants/people involved in an activity. In this manner, these people are recognized as observers. In association with the rain dance theory, the people of the group, by the definition of a latent function, explains the practice of people engaging in a group activity common for everyone.
For instance, the Manifest Function theory can be exemplified through the example of slavery. Slavery in South America was meant to elevate the productivity standards from an economic point of view. However from Latent Function theoretical prespective slavery provided a majority of underclass, meant to further increase the social status for the Southern American whites, despite of them being poor or rich.
Structuralist Functionalism Theory and Social Theories
The Structuralist Functionalism Theory visualizes society as a system that is complex and deeply interconnected, with each part performing its set of tasks in correspondence to the other part. Viewing society as a system can relate to summarizing it down to the definition of Harmony. However, the Manifest Function and Latent Function present different meanings in society. Manifest Function states it as an intended result of a defined social system, and since it is intended, it is known that it will happen. Latent Function presents a counter-argument to Manifest Function since it is neither intended nor recognizable. Latent Functions are unforeseen consequences which will not be known till they are recognized.