Sociological Perspectives

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Sociological perspective is a way of looking at the world through a sociological lens (Ferris and Stein 9). Sociologists use sociological perspective as a tool to understand human life in society. The following practices may be helpful in understanding sociology and thinking sociologically.

Structural Functionalism is a paradigm that begins with the assumption that society is a unified whole that functions because of the contributions of its separate structures (Ferris and Stein 18). The Functionalist paradigm describes society as stable and describes all of the various mechanisms that maintain social stability. Functionalism argues that the social structure is responsible for all stability and instability, and that that the social structure is continuously attempting to maintain social balance among all of the components of society. Functionalism argues that a stable society is the best possible society and any element that helps to maintain that stability must add to the adaptability (functionality) of society. This is a macro-level paradigm that describes large-scale processes and large- scale social systems; it is uninterested in individual behavior.

Conflict theory is a paradigm that sees social conflict as the basis of society and social change, and emphasizes a materialist view of society, a critical view of the status quo, and a dynamic model of historical change (Ferris and Stein 22). The Conflict paradigm describes the inequalities that exist in all societies around the globe. Conflict is particularly interested in the following inequalities race or ethnicity, sex or gender, age, religion, ability or disability, etc. Every society is plagued by inequality based on social differences among the dominant group and all of the other groups in society, according to the Conflict paradigm. When sociologists analyze elements of society from this perspective, they look at the structures of wealth, power, and status and the ways in which those structures...
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