Introduction to Sociology

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There are three sociological perspectives: Symbolic Interactionist, functional analysis, and conflict.

To begin, symbolic interactionist study how people use symbols to develop their views of the world and to communicate with one another. Symbolic interactionist analyze how our behaviors depend on the ways we define ourselves and others. Everything is a symbol and without symbols humans would be no more advanced than the animals that surround them. The next sociological perspective is functional analysis. The central idea of functional analysis is that society is one “whole” unit made up of interrelated parts that work together in harmony. This perspective means that society is composed of many different parts, in which, each part has a role to fulfill in order for society to function normally. There are three types of functions: manifest, latent, and dysfunctions. The manifest functions are deliberate actions that help the system. Latent functions are unexpected functions that help the system. The last function of functional analysis is dysfunctional function. These functions are damaging but, inevitable to society. The third sociological perspective is conflict theory. This perspective on social life basically means that society is composed of competition. This competition or conflict is not always expressed, but it just lies beneath the surface waiting to sprout at a moments notice. When I think about conflict theory I tend to think of the old cliché, “Survival of the fittest.”

There are basic assumptions involved for each of the sociological perspectives. The basic assumption of symbolic interactionists is assuming that everything in society is a symbol. Our aunts, uncles, cousins, employers, teachers …everything! These symbols we use are what make us a civilized society. The key terms used to remember when speaking about symbolic interactionism are: symbols, interaction, meanings, and definitions. The assumption of functional analysis is that society...
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