The Three Major Sociological Theories

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As a science that is concerned with the systematic study of human society,

sociology has three major theories for its backbone:

structural-functional, social-conflict and symbolic-interaction.


Is a framework for building theory that sees societies as a complex social

organism. August Comte who is considered the father of sociology held the

view that society’s social structure help to promote solidarity and stability.

Functional theorists are concerned with how patterns of behavior help

Societies function. It was also Comte’s idea that sociological investigations

should be carried out scientifically - an approach known as positivism.

Emile Durkheim work advanced the structural-functional theory by viewing

society as built on social facts, or patterned ways of acting and thinking.

According to Robert Merton, some of these social patterns have intended

consequencies – manifest function; while the purpose of other behaviors are

not obvious – latent functions


Conflict theorists view human society as an arena of inequalities that breed

conflicts and changes. They are concerned about how social class, race, gender and sexual orientation affect society’s distribution of wealth, power

and prestige. While structural-functional approach is concerned with how a

social structure promotes stability within a society, the social-conflict

approach focuses on the social struggle between the dominant and the

disadvantaged groups within a society - an analysis that Herbert Spencer

referred to as Social Darwinism. He likened the society to the human body

with different organs necessary for survival.

For conflict theorists like Carl Max, the twentieth was a very important

century, in terms of sociological events.

His socio - economic ideas were adopted by the Bolsheviks who won...
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