top-rated free essay

The Three Major Sociological Theories

By oppoazie Nov 28, 2010 553 Words
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.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Sociological Theory

    ...INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY Compare and contrast the views of three appropriate sociological perspectives to an area of social life of your choosing. Why do we act the way we do? Does the mass media really affect the way a people in a society behave? Sociologists focus on the environment and the social aspects of human behaviour in...

    Read More
  • Sociological Theories

    ...Sociological Theories A sociological theory is a set of ideas that provides an explanation for human society. Theories are selective in terms of their priorities and perspectives and the data they define as significant. As a result they provide a particular and partial view of reality. Sociological theories can be grouped together according ...

    Read More
  • Sociological Theories

    ...Structural Functionalism (Herbert Spencer) is a sociological theory that attempts to explain why society functions the way it does by focusing on the relationships between the various social institutions that make up society (e.g., government, law, education, religion, etc) Structural Functionalism is a theoretical understanding of society ...

    Read More
  • Three major Sociology theories

    ... 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...

    Read More
  • Analysis on Three Main Sociological Theories

    ... Contextual 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...

    Read More
  • Sociological Theory

    ...the social disorganization of early twentieth-century Chicago? How were their methods and theories different from prevailing approaches to the origins of violence and squalor? 2. Provide a Functionalist analysis of Sports showing knowledge of Parson's functionalism, AGIL system, and Merton's Manifest and Latent functions. 3. Provid...

    Read More
  • Sociological Theories

    ...Lacy V. Wood ------------------------------------------------- SOC. 480, Sociological Theories Spring 2011 Lacy V. Wood ------------------------------------------------- SOC. 480, Sociological Theories Spring 2011 Taking It Big Charles Wright Mills is most commonly known for his theory of the sociological imagination. Through both t...

    Read More
  • Sociological Theory

    ...This assignment will outline the beginnings of sociological theory including historical development of the main theories, namely functionalism and Marxism, and a view of interactionism. The social context in which each of these theories emerged will be detailed with inclusion of possible effects of the social issues at the time. It is often ...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.