There are three major theories that sociologists follow: symbolic interactionism, functional analysis, and conflict theory. (Henslin, 2013) “The central idea of symbolic interactionism is that symbols—things to which we attach meaning—are the key to understanding how we view the world and communicate with one another.” (Henslin, 2013, pg. 57) I’m sure most people are familiar with the brainteaser about the doctor who could not operate on the boy who was rushed into the hospital because the boy was the doctor’s son. I think this is a perfect example of symbolic interactionism at play. We give meaning to things based on our social interactions with things; since in the earlier years men were the only doctors and are still dominant in the medical field we typically will characterize men as the doctors and women as nurses. However, since woman are obtaining more power and are able to become doctors that means that a doctor was only a man is changing. “From the perspective of functional analysis, society is a functioning unit, with each part related to the whole.” (Henslin, 2013, pg. 59) This perspective really makes me think of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; in the book it was clear that in order for their perfect society to survive, all the different class systems had to be present and work with each other. In order to maintain a social equilibrium in a society, every structure needs to have a function that meets a need of the society, and all the structure then work together. For example, FAFSA, the government gives aid to young adults in need that want to attend college to get good jobs, these children will later support their community. Functionalism is a nice way to look at society with its nice equilibrium of institutions, however, for me it has a lot of flaws. It focuses too much on the institutions and the big picture rather than focus on the importance of the people. It also does not really explain social change and conflicts...
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