Sociological Theoretical Frameworks

  • Created by: Em
  • Created on: 28-05-16 05:21

Functionalism (Functionalist Perspective)

  • The view that each aspect of society is interdependent and contributes to society's functioning as a whole
  • Functionalism is a macro level study of society
  • Functionalists defend and justify the status quo
  • In an ideal society different parts of society produce order, stability and productivity 
  • If all doesn't go well, the parts of society then adapt to make a new order, stability and productiity
  • Functionalists belive society is held together by social consensus (members of society agree and work together to achieve what is best for society as a whole)
  • According to functionalists social consensus/cohesian can take one of two forms: 
    • Mechanical solidarity
    • Organic solidarity 
  • Functionalism has been criticised for ignoring the negative functions of an event and not encouraging people to take an active role in changing their environment
  • Functionalism also sees active social change as undesirable because parts of society will compensate for any problems that arise
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The Conflict Perspective

  • Conflict perspective is a macro level view of society 
  • Unlike other perspectives, conflict perspective focuses on the negative, conflicted, ever-changing nature of society
  • Conflict theorists:
    • Challenge the status quo (unlike functionalists)
    • Enourage social change (even when it means social revolution)
    • Believe that rich and powerful people force social order on the poor and weak
  • Today conflict theorists find social conflict between any group where the potential for inequality exists (racial, gender, political, religious, economic etc)
  • Conflict theorists note that unequal groups usually have conflicting values/agendas causing them to compete with each other
  • Criticisms of the conflict theorists include being too negative 
  • Another criticism of conflict theory is that the theory tends to think of positive aspects of society (e.g. humanitarian efforts, altruism, democracy, civil rights etc.) as capitalistic designs to control the masses 
  • Conflict theorists don't see these positive aspects of society as pure interests in preserving society and social order
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Symbolic Interactionism (Symbolic Interactionist)

  • Symbolic interactionism is a micro level study of society 
  • Symbolic interactionists consider the symbols and details of everyday life, what they mean and how people interact with each other 
  • According to this theory, people attach meanings to symbols and act according to their subjective interpretation of these symbols
  • Conversation is an example of symbols (words in the conversation require intention and interpretation) between individuals who constantly interpret the world around them
  • Anything can be seen as a symbol as long as it refers to something beyond itself (for example how music notes aren't just marks, they're organised to make musical sense)
  • Symbolic interactionists give serious thought to how people act, they then determine what meanings people assign to their own symbols/actions and the symbols/actions of others
  • Critics of this theory think it neglects the macro level of social interpretation, thus symbolic interactionists may miss the larger issues of a society 
  • Another criticism is that the theory leaves out the influences of social forces and insitutions on an individual's interactions 
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