Compare and Contrast of 3 Sociology Theories

Topics: Sociology, Émile Durkheim, Anthropology Pages: 3 (1155 words) Published: October 8, 2012
Sociology is the study of society. Through the centuries, sociologists have tried to provide an explanation as to why and how humans interact with each other on a social basis. Sociologists have divided sociology into two levels, microsociology and macrosociology (Sociology). The level of microsociology studies is on a smaller perspective, as macrosociology is the study of society on a larger analysis. Today, sociology has three major theories: symbolic interactionism, functionalism and conflict.

“Symbolic interaction refers to the patterns of communication, interpretation and adjustment between individuals,” (Baird and Kaufmann) humans will interpret different meanings in everyday life, from having a conversation or using their conscience. This theory is based on microsociology because it can be based upon individual interaction or a single person using symbolism with an object. For example, a person can interpret a white dove as a sign of love and peace, while another person can view it as just an animal. Symbolic interaction is unlike the two other theories, mostly because it is on a micro-sociological scale and focuses on just one aspect of society. It is believed that this theory’s origins are developed from Max Weber who believed a person acts based of their interpretation of the world. However, an American sociologist by the name of George H. Mead introduced the theory to American sociology in the 1920’s (Sociology).

The second theory is functionalism which is defined as, “the doctrine that what makes something a mental state of a particular type does not depend on its internal constitution, but rather on the way it functions, or the role it plays, in the system of which it is a part. (Functionalism)” This theory is based upon different aspects of society, working interdependently together, creating a sound environment. The best example of this theory would involve a family and their government working together to create an ideal environment. As the...

Cited: Baird, Forrest E., and Walter Arnold. Kaufmann. Philosophic Classics: From Plato to Derrida. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2008. Print.
"A First Look at Communication Theory, 8th Edition." , 0077380630. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Sept. 2012. <>.
"Functionalism." (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Sept. 2012. <>.
Giddens, Anthony. Introduction to Sociology. Sixth ed. New York: Norton and, 2007. Print.
"Sociology: Three Major Perspectives in Sociology." Sociology: Three Major Perspectives in Sociology. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Sept. 2012. <,articleId-26837.html>.
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