Top-Rated Free Essay

The Three Major Sociological Theories

Good Essays
Topics: Sociology
THE THREE MAJOR SOCIOLOGICAL THEORIES

As a science that is concerned with the systematic study of human society,

sociology has three major theories for its backbone:

structural-functional, social-conflict and symbolic-interaction.

THE STRUCTURAL-FUNCTIONAL APPROACH

Is a framework for building theory that sees societies as a complex social

organism. August Comte who is considered the father of sociology held the

view that society’s social structure help to promote solidarity and stability.

Functional theorists are concerned with how patterns of behavior help

Societies function. It was also Comte’s idea that sociological investigations

should be carried out scientifically - an approach known as positivism.

Emile Durkheim work advanced the structural-functional theory by viewing

society as built on social facts, or patterned ways of acting and thinking.

According to Robert Merton, some of these social patterns have intended

consequencies – manifest function; while the purpose of other behaviors are

not obvious – latent functions

THE SOCIAL-CONFLICT APPROACH

Conflict theorists view human society as an arena of inequalities that breed

conflicts and changes. They are concerned about how social class, race, gender and sexual orientation affect society’s distribution of wealth, power

and prestige. While structural-functional approach is concerned with how a

social structure promotes stability within a society, the social-conflict

approach focuses on the social struggle between the dominant and the

disadvantaged groups within a society - an analysis that Herbert Spencer

referred to as Social Darwinism. He likened the society to the human body

with different organs necessary for survival.

For conflict theorists like Carl Max, the twentieth was a very important

century, in terms of sociological events.

His socio - economic ideas were adopted by the Bolsheviks who won

the class struggle of the Russian society. On the US home front,

race and gender conflict analysis required new approaches.

THE GENDER-CONFLICT APPROACH

The gender-conflict perspective focuses on gender inequality, and is

linked to feminism which advocates equality between men and women.

The approach acknowledges the contributions to sociology by women such

as Jane Adams, Susan .B. Anthony and Harriet Martineau who was

considered the first woman sociologist. Jane Adams campaigned for

the underclass and women’s social equality, and was credited with founding

the Hull House Settlement for poor immigrant families.
THE RACE-CONFLICT APPROACH

The race-conflict approach focuses on social inequality and conflict between

groups of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, and advocates social

equality for ethnic minorities who endure social and economic

disadvantages. The approach also highlights the contributions by minorities

such as Ida .W. Barnet and W .E. Du Bois to the development of sociology.

THE SYMBOLIC-INTERACTION APPROACH

The symbolic approach is a framework for advancing sociological theory

based on close-up analysis of interactions between individuals in specific

settings, a process known as micro-level orientation.

The name most associated with symbolic approach is Max Weber who

emphasized the need to understand a society from the point of view of

individuals who live in it. In the symbolic approach view of society, the

reality people experience is variable and changing, depending on the

symbolic meaning they attach to it.

In conclusion, each approach helps to analyze human societies, but a fuller

understanding can only be attained by applying all three approaches.

REFERENCE

Macionis, John J., Sociology, 11th Edition, New Jersey, Pearson, 2007.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    The theories that are used in sociology provide us with different perspectives with which we can view our social world. A theory is a set of interrelated propositions or principles designed to answer a question or explain a particular phenomenon. Sociological theories help us explain and even predict the social world in which we live. There are three major theories that are used by a sociologist. Those three major theories are Symbol Interactionism, Functional Analysis, and Conflict Theory. I chose…

    • 536 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Healthcare and Sociological Theories SOC 101 Introduction to Sociology December 16, 2013 Healthcare is a current hot button issue in America. While almost anyone would agree that changes are needed in the healthcare system, the opinions on how to go about it vary. This is due to the diverse opinions of healthcare’s proper role in this society. Even the three major sociological theories – Functionalism, Conflict, and Interactionism - have three distinct perspectives on this subject…

    • 2250 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Three Sociological Theories For my discussion the issue I have chosen is inequality in education. Inequality in education has been an issue that our country has been dealing with from the earliest of times, it continues today, and will continue to be an issue in the future. In this paper I will explain education through the three major paradigms in sociology. Education through the view of a functionalist tells us that our children are being prepared for the roles they will have in society. A…

    • 626 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    There are three major sociology theories known as functionalism, conflict theory, and interactionist perspective. Symbolic interactionism is the use of symbols and is face-to-face interaction. Functionalism has to do with relationships between the parts of society and how the aspects of society are adaptive. The last, conflict theory is the competition of scarce resources and how the elite control the poor and week. The symbolic interactionist perspective which is known as symbolic interactionism…

    • 530 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    The three most significant theories of disease are naturalist, normativist, and hybrid theorists. Each of these theories of disease has major differences which differentiate them from one another. Ultimately, the hybrid approach with the incorporation of some normative and naturalist views proves to be the most superior theory of disease of the bunch. Naturalist theories of disease believe that all beings and events in the universe are natural and denies the existence of any supernatural realities…

    • 1382 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    pursuit of self interest, or for firms profit maximisation when actions of individuals or firms affect others. There are many notable theories that have been put down trying to form a guideline on how to solve the problem of what is right or wrong good or bad, below are three theories I have listed: 1. Utilitarianism Ethical Theory: J. S Mill The view of this theory is among competing alternatives one ought to do that which produces the greatest happiness overall for all concerned. A key aspect in…

    • 909 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Relevance of Modern Sociological Perspectives: an Analysis on the Three Main Sociological Theories Abstract: When taking into consideration all social sciences, numerous behavioral and cognitive theories have been developed and revised over the years. Although this is true, some of the more influential and accurate theories have remained almost completely unchanged yet they still envelope modern day perspectives. Symbolic interactionism, functional analysis, and the conflict theory are among these…

    • 1591 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    NAME: Shaquila Peters PROGRAM: Nursing Conflict Theory My views on Conflict Theory emerged after being introduced to the Three Sociological perspectives. Subsequent to my research, I came to the conclusion that The Conflict Theory is in fact a concise explanation of how society operates. In my own words, The Conflict theory claims that the society is in an everlasting conflicting competitive state for limited resources, it also indicates that control is not maintained by census and conformity…

    • 569 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Sociologist look at the world through three major theoretical perspectives. Symbolic interaction, functional analysis, and conflict theory. Symbolic interactionism is a theory about social behavior and interaction. When in public one may find their selves changing their stance or the way they speak or even adjusting the way they look based on how they think people are looking at them. One may want people to see them in a certain way such as nice or friendly, or approachable. Sociologist view how…

    • 429 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Better Essays

    effective results in both psychotherapy and educational practices. The study of learning has yielded various learning theories that are categorized into different paradigms. Hergenhahn and Olson (2005), define a paradigm as "a viewpoint shared by several scientists that provides a general framework for empirical research, and is usually more than just one theory" (p. 24). Two of the major paradigms are the functionalistic and associationistic paradigms. DiscussionWithin the functionalistic paradigm,…

    • 1092 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Better Essays