Introduction to Sociology/Final Reflection Paper * Part 1
Sociology, the scientific study of social groups (Chapter 1 Module 1), focuses primly on how our social relationships not only influence our behavior but the development of society as a whole. Sociologists analyze social phenomena at different levels and from different perspectives. From concrete interpretations to sweeping generalizations of society and social behavior, sociologists study everything from specific events (the micro level of analysis of small social patterns) to the “big picture” (the macro level of analysis of large social patterns). The pioneering European sociologists, however, also offered a broad conceptualization of the fundamentals of society and its workings. Their views form the basis for today's theoretical perspectives which provide sociologists with a concrete framework of philosophical positions for asking certain kinds of questions about society and its people.
Sociologists today employ three primary theoretical perspectives: Interactionist, Functionalist, and Conflict (Chapter 1 Module 3). These perspectives offer sociologists theoretical paradigms for explaining how society influences people, and vice versa. The Functionalist perspective views each aspect of society is interdependent and contributes to society's functioning as a whole. An example of this is could be the cow worship in Indian society as the preservation of the cow allows it to plow the fields and produce milk, both of which are essential to long term survival of the inhabitants. In addition, the cow’s feces double as fertilizer as well as fuel for cooking. On the opposite side of the spectrum is the Conflict perspective that assumes social behavior is best understood through tension between groups over power and the allocation of resources such as housing, money, services, and political representation. While this doesn’t always involve violence, such conflicts can be seen in labor negotiations, political elections, or the Occupy movement. The conflict perspective focuses on the negative, conflicted, and ever-changing nature of society. Unlike functionalists who defend the status quo, avoid social change, and believe people cooperate to effect social order, conflict theorists challenge the status quo, encourage social change (even when this means social revolution), and believe rich and powerful people force social order on the poor and the weak.
Lastly, Interactionists generalize everyday forms of social interaction in order to explain society as a whole. This perspective directs sociologists to consider the symbols and details of everyday life, what these symbols mean, and how people interact with each other. Although symbolic interactionism traces its origins to Max Weber's assertion(Chapter 1 Module 2) that individuals act according to their interpretation of the meaning of their world. Symbols have a shared social meaning that is understood and recognized by the entirety of a society. Widely recognized symbols such as tattoos, bumper stickers, and house flags allow individuals to communicate their values and beliefs to those around them. This nonverbal communication also consists of bodily gestures, facial expressions, and postures (Chapter 1 Module 3).
Personally, I agree with some aspects of both the Functionalist and Conflict perspective as they present and image of how society should be construed and what it actually is. To explain, functionalism appeals to my idealistic way of thinking as it relates to stability, order, and cohesion. I believed such a construct was fairly possible when examining our democratic from of government. In theory, the system is made to provide equal representation as well as flexibility in respect to the voice of the people such as the several amendments made to the constitution as well as our right to...
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