Principal Sociological Perspectives P1 & P2
The principal sociological perspectives are Functionalism, Marxism, Feminism, Interactionism, collectivism, postmodernism, ‘New Right’.
Functionalism is a sociological approach that sees the institutions of society – which are sometimes likened to the human body, as the institutions, such as the police, hospitals, etc, work in union and they make specific contributions to the smooth running of society.
Talcott Parsons (1902 – 1979)
Parsons contributed to the development of functionalism, as he saw society as a system made up of linking establishments which played a role in the smooth running and continuity. He also said that the main role of an institution was for individuals to socialise and make sure that they knew the underlying values of their society and behaved in acceptable ways, and that there was order in society. When Parsons wrote about the American society, he argued that the family had two basic and irreducible functions: •
The primary socialisation of children
The stabilisations of adult personalities – in complex, stressful and demanding world family provided warmth and emotional security, especially as Parsons saw it, for the male breadwinner.
Functions of the family
George Murdock (1897 – 1958) did a classic study of the family in 1949, where he examined over 250 societies, of which ranged from a small hunter gatherer community to large industrial societies, and he found a form of family in each of the families he studies. He claimed that all of the families that he included in his study had four functions: •
Criticism of the functionalist approach
The criticisms of the functionalist approach are that it doesn’t address areas of conflict, and it emphasizes a consensus and agreement and paint a rosy picture of the situation. Institutions have a clear, positive function and cooperate effectively for the good of all. Also, it does not reflect many people’s experiences of the modern world, and there are often clear winners and losers. Another criticism of the functionalist approach is that is based on the idea that in all societies, the members share some basic values and beliefs, and this consensus underpins the socialization process and the working of the main institutions. To add, researchers have not been able to find that common values are in fact shared in modern societies.
Functionalist are clear in stating that the way we behave is a direct result of the socialization process and how little our behavior is the result of our personal choices. They also believe that we are largely programmed to behave in certain ways. The interactionist model provides an alternative to this view
Ultimately, the functionalists tend to present an image of a socialization process that does not fail, however, they give no distinctive explanation of deviant behavior, especially the extreme forms of deviance found in crime, delinquency and abuse, of which, destabilise society as a whole.
Marxism works on the political and economic philosophy of Karl Marx (1818-1883). He focused on the conflict and struggle within social class, and that the behaviour of individuals was shaped based on society and that the economic system defined society and the placement people have in it.
There are two social classes, according to Marx;
The Bourgeoisie (or Capitalists) are the powerful people in society and they own factories and other employment establishments. The Proletariat, of who are a much larger, poorer group of workers, these people work for the bourgeoisie (employees) Marx’s view on these is that there will always be a conflict between the two. As the owners of the factories want more land and higher profits, whereas the employees want higher wages for the extensive work in which the bourgeoisie are demanding. Due to this conflict,...
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