Sociological Imagination

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Compare and contrast conflict theory with structural functionalism. Pay special attention to the way that each theory treats the origin of social change.

Structural functionalism focuses on the factors in society that allow it to interact cohesively. Structural Functionalism stresses that society as whole, including the individuals, families, educational system, politics, and the economy come together to create a functioning society. But, if any one part of these social institutions experiences dysfunction then the whole society pays a price as if it were like a domino effect. Instead of focusing on the causes of a cohesive society, the conflict theory supports the notion that the social system may only work for a select few of society. In the conflict theory these select few are the higher class in other words the bourgeoisie of society. Conflict theory does not see society as a whole coming together well for one purpose. The conflict theory proposes that conflict and tension are the basic facts of life and are what make up social change and ultimately society as a whole, but it puts more emphasis on class conflict (bourgeoisie vs. proletariat). Together, both of these theories come from a macro analysis perspective.

Symbolic interactionism focuses on communication and meaning. According to symbolic interactionism, how is a meaningful reality created?

Symbolic interactionism illustrates that interacting with others and meaning behind words and gestures is what creates society in the first place. From this perspective people act toward things based on the meanings those things have for them. These meanings are derived from social interaction and modified through interpretation. Symbolic interactionism sees face to face interaction as the building blocks of everything else in society. Without interactions we could not construct a meaningful reality within society.

Sociology as a discipline is commonly divided between those who use qualitative...
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