When viewing an issue with society, one can view it through several different perspectives. You can look at an issue through the perspectives of a functionalist and a conflict theorist, the two major theories of Sociology. Sociology: The Essentials defines both of these perspectives. Functionalists “view society in terms of how it contributes to the stability of the whole.” Conflict theorists “emphasize the role of coercion and power, a person or group’s ability to exercise influence and control over others, in producing social order” (16-18). These two theories have very different perspectives on social issues. For example, poverty is a major social issue that they have very different views on.
Functionalism states that everything works together to keep a society functioning in a harmonious manner, or an equilibrium of sorts. If there wasn’t poverty, there would not be certain jobs. There are people that specialize in providing services to individuals who live in poverty. Working at the Department of Job and Family Services, non-profit organizations focusing on homeless and low-income individuals are a few examples of these jobs. Those who serve and protect individuals living in poverty would be without employment. Poverty can also boost morale. Those in middle class and upper classes see people living in, and can feel better about themselves by realizing they do not have it that bad. On the other end, poverty can also serve as a motivator for hard work. When people find themselves suffering financially, they experience what it is like to live in poverty and will most likely enjoy it. They work for better living conditions by increasing productivity and efficiency to ensure that they stay out of poverty.
Conflict theory states that outside forces prevent an individual or group from achieving a desired goal or certain aspect of living. When relating to poverty, most people would like to be...
Cited: Andersen, Margaret L., and Howard Francis Taylor. Sociology: The Essentials. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.
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