Contextual Relevance of Modern Sociological Perspectives: an Analysis on the Three Main Sociological Theories
Abstract: When taking into consideration all social sciences, numerous behavioral and cognitive theories have been developed and revised over the years. Although this is true, some of the more influential and accurate theories have remained almost completely unchanged yet they still envelope modern day perspectives. Symbolic interactionism, functional analysis, and the conflict theory are among these main theories; they have been used to described various factors in society and still continue to hold true to their definitions. With further exploration and research, an overview on these concepts will be given with contextual evidence.
Keywords: symbolic interactionism, functional analysis, conflict theory, social science, sociology, behavioral, cognitive
Sociological theories are used to describe and explain just about any occurrence in society. From cultural customs and traditions, to street and white collar crime, to changes in social norms, the main perspectives can be used to find out their true purpose and origin. Every established sociologist has their own views, but for the most part they will fall into categories having to do with the main three perspectives. For each topic, there are also many subtopic perspectives and theories to assist in explaining some of the more specific events throughout life. For now, an overview between symbolic interactionism, functional analysis, and the conflict theory will be given, with contextual evidence of each. Symbolic interactionism can be defined as an individual acting upon or towards something based on their prior interaction or interpretation with that subject. Any and all past experiences and feelings are combined to form a reaction to the subject. A great example brought up by James Henslin is the meaning of marriage and all of its components. This includes factors such as marriage itself, divorce, parenthood, and love. Each of these concepts had a changed view one hundred years ago, fifty years ago, and even ten years ago. They are constantly changing, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. When considering marriage pre-1920, they were entirely based upon essential and purposeful decision such as “settling down” and purchasing land, having kids, and investing. This was all much rather done with a companion. Now, when marriage is looked at, it occurs because people have preferences, feelings, and emotional connections to each other. Two individuals may have separate lives and self-supporting, but just want to marry for the sake of having a partner. Divorces were also unheard of in the past. They were used only in the case of adultery or complete disagreement with domestic issues. But now, divorces are quite common, and no longer symbolize failure but as success and a new start. (Henslin 17) We, as humans, are independent thinkers and can constantly judge the actions of things around us. All factors in our environments can change these thoughts, but nothing can cease them. This is better known as our conscience, our individual though with no chance of elimination. A better description of this process was described by the author of Symbolic Interactionism: An Introduction, An Interpretation, An Integration, “The human being must be understood as a thinking being. Human action is not only interaction among individuals but also interaction within the individual. It is not our ideas or attitudes or values that are as important as the constant active ongoing process of thinking. We are not simply conditioned, we are not simply beings who are influenced by those around us, we are not simply products of society. We are, to our very core, thinking animals, always conversing with ourselves as we interact with others. If we want to understand cause, focus on human thinking.” (Charon 31) Charon truly emphasizes, on the most basic...
Cited: Bancroft, Angues and Sioned Rogers, edited by Pierre Stapley (2010). Emile Durkheim-Functional Explanation. Cardiff University, School of Social Sciences. http://www.cf.ac.uk/ socsi/undergraduate/introsoc/durkheim8.html
Charon, Joel M. (2004). Symbolic Interactionism An Introduction, An Interpretation, An Integration. Boston: Pearson. pg. 31.
Henslin, James M. (2013). Essentials of Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. Boston: Pearson. pg. 16-7,
Sears, Alan. (2008) A Good Book, In Theory: A Guide to Theoretical Thinking. North York: Higher Education University of Toronto Press, pg. 34-6.
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