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Structural theories

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Topics: Sociology
Structural theories
One of the theories is Marxism who studies society on a macro perspective so they generate a lot of statistics. They concentrate a lot on class and believe there is conflict between two opposing classes’ bourgeoisie and working class. They have a similar view to the social action theory and that view is in society there is struggle between the powerful and the powerless. They also have a view on feminism and that is it’s not just men who exploit women but also capitalist. Their view is capitalism is the root of all exploitation which also creates competition between social classes. They have views on the role of the family and they believe family maintains capitalism. They have a very strong opinion on school and believe education reproduce a passive workforce for capitalism as in students are taught workers should accept their position and that causes less conflict for the capitalists. They also believe education creates class inequality as in upper class are meant to succeed whilst lower class are meant to fail. They believe school is just preparation for the work force as in the rules students are told follow. This creates ideological dominants by the school as they promote the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor. They also believe that education reproduces the public structure.
The Marxist theory has been criticised by other theories which is typical in sociology. Functionalists believe they focus too much on class and need to look more at ethnicity, sex and gender differences. Feminists also believe that woman is exploited in a patriarchal society and not just capitalism. Patriarchal is male dominant. Functionalist also disagree with their point that society is conflictive and they believe society is harmonious as we all share the same common set of values.
The social action theory believes there are two ways to view society. One of the ways is the structural macro view and the other is interpretism. The social action theory tends to interact with small groups so in education they will study separate classes and not the whole educational system. They do not believe in the institutions of society as our behaviour is only influenced by the people around us. In fact they ignore the institutions of society as it influences capitalism. They look into the teacher student relationship and see how students are treated. They have asked teachers who are perfect student is in their eyes and the majority has said the middle class children can succeed more. However the social action theory does not believe our class effects our actions as it is all down to the individual’s choices. They also look into stereotypes and labelling and see how much someone labelled is affected. Most of the theories are the work of Max Weber and he does not believe people are puppets as it is down to our choices. Like the Marxist they also believe that society is conflictive.
Like every perspective the social action theory is also criticised. The Marxist believes that they ignore capitalism and the conflict it causes. Their theory has been criticised for being hard to test as they generate no statistics. This is because they research on a micro scale which only enables them to look at little aspects of society. Marxism have also criticised them for focussing too much on an individual and ignoring the big picture and that makes them ignore the class competition there is in society. They are also seen as ignoring the gender and ethnicity inequalities and they focus too much on the micro scale. This is why structuralisms do not like this theory.
Feminists are a theory that believes women are exploited in three different ways. A patriarchal society which is male dominant, subordination which exploits women and ideology which exploits everyone. Their main theory is those women are oppressed but there are four different feminist theories. The different feminists study on a micro scale and look at different roles, race and sexuality. They believe black women are exploited much more than middle class white women who shouldn’t really be complaining anyway as they do not get exploited as much. They believe lower class black women will not succeed due to society’s opinion about them. They also believe all women are not the same so they cannot be treated the same. There are also radical feminists who are the most extreme. They are anti men and believe men are the problem and the enemy. They believe in a patriarchal society and that woman are exploited in public and private places. Public is places such as work and private is domestically. They believe in schools that men are more likely to be head teacher than a woman due to the gender inequalities. They also say there may be acts in place in favour of women but that the acts take too long to come in. The liberal feminists as seen as the soft ones. They believe that women are gradually overcoming inequalities and the proof is the equal pay act and the sexual discrimination act. These acts provide more confidence and equality to the women. They also see women doing better than men at GCSE and A level is another way of them overcoming the inequalities. There is also Marxist feminists who believe the oppression is caused by capitalism. They also believe that women perform several functions for capitalism and that they reproduce the labour force. Such as reproduction and that child will grow up to simply work for the capitalists. They believe that woman absorb men’s anger and frustration which are caused at work, so men get exploited at work and then they take their anger on women which is what causes domestic abuse.
Like other theories they are also criticised in many ways. Liberal feminists are criticised as women are still not getting the top jobs so gradual change is still not available. The statistics say only 12% of women are getting the top jobs which mean 88% of the top jobs are men employees. That proves there is still a vast inequality between the genders. There are also things such as only men are advertised on TV for the top jobs as if it was meant to be for men. The equal pay act is also criticised as there may be an equal pay act but women still do not get the same pay as women. Radical feminists are criticised for being too extreme and blaming men only as women can also exploit other women.
Modernists believe that education is controlled centrally by the state and that you have a fixed timetable when you are in the school premises, whether you’re a teacher or student. Post modernists believe that society is continually changing. They are continually searching for the truth because like society it is also changing through time. They believe individuals are constantly learning new skills to be able to live in the new era. This means we are continually getting taught something new. They reject facts and statistics as they believe they are too old for this modern society and they also believe that education is controlled by communities. They also believe in meritocracy and this theory is quite close to interpritism. They are also quite dismissive of functionalists and disagree with most of their work. They believe in this modern era schools are more diverse with introduction of things such as faith schools which is making education more diverse. They are fascinated by the mass media and high tech as that is the reason why society has changed. They believe that society is become much more modern so all the theories are too old as living now is much different then back in the old days. They also believe that society has excelled beyond the structure and institutions which completely crosses out the other theories. They also believe that schools inspire creativity and self supervision which comes in handy for the students in the future. They believe that in the modern era jobs are more flexible and specialised
Like every theory Post modernists are also criticised. Others argue that they exaggerate too much about diversity and the national curriculum is proof of their exaggeration. They have also been criticised for ignoring gender inequalities and that is by the feminists. Marxists believe that they ignore the fact that capitalism still exists even in the modern society and that the modern state produce passive workers for capitalism. This means students are taught to accept their position which means there will be less conflict between the capitalists and workers.
Functionalists believe that society is based on a value consensus and a set of shared norms and values. Functionalists often compare society to a biological organism like the human body. Talcott Parsons believe sociology is like science and you can study society the same way a biologist and chemist can. He also believes in sociology you can create a hypothesis and prove it which is exactly what scientists do. They see family as an important sub system in society and it performs four functions to meet the needs of the society and its members. These four functions are sex, reproduction, socialisation and economy. Their perfect family is the nuclear family with the typical husband wife and children family. They also believe in meritocracy which is the harder you work the more you succeed if you had the opportunities. They also believe society is harmonious and there is no conflict what so ever. This is because they believe we share values and beliefs which makes us less likely conflict. They also have a positive view over families and believe they are protective and supportive.
There are many criticisms of functionalists such as social action theory and Marxists believe society is conflictive and proof of this is strikes and protests. These prove there is conflict between the capitalists and workers whether its low wages or long hours there is a disagreement. Marxism has an opposite view of family to them and they believe families are beneficial to capitalists. Feminists will argue that they do ignore the gender inequality which does cause conflict in society. Postmodernists are completely dismissive of functionalists and don’t agree one bit with their theory.

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