Structural Theory

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Structural functionalism concentrates on the positive and negative functions of social structures. Societal functionalism is a particular type of structural functionalism that aims to explain the role of social structures and institutions in society, the relationship between these structures, and the manner in which these structures constrain the actions of individuals. According to structural functionalists, individuals have little to no control over the ways in which particular structures operate. Indeed, structural functionalists understand individuals in terms of social positions. For example, when the structural functionalists Kingsley Davis and Wilbur Moore discuss social stratification, they do not refer to individuals, but to the positions these individuals occupy. It is not individuals who are ranked, but positions that are ranked according to the degree to which they contribute to the survival of society. High-ranking positions offer high rewards that make them worth an individual’s time and effort to occupy. The structural functionalist account of stratification has been criticized on the grounds that there must be other ways to motivate individuals to occupy particular positions and perform certain tasks without such a disparate system of rewards."

Social exchange theory is a social psychological perspective that explains social change and stability as a process of negotiated exchanges between parties. Social exchange theory posits that all human relationships are formed by the use of a subjective cost-benefit analysis and the comparison of alternatives. For example, when a person perceives the costs of relationship as outweighing the perceived benefits, then the theory predicts that the person will choose to leave the relationship. The early permuatations of Social Exchange Theory stem from Gouldner's (1960) norm of reciprocity, which simply argues that people aught to return benefits given to them in a relationship. Later modifications to...
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