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The Three Main Sociological Perspectives
The Three Principal Sociological Perspectives
From Mooney, Knox, and Schacht, 2007. Understanding personal issues, 5 th edition
Theories in sociology provide united states with various per spectives with which to view our social world.
A perspective is simply a way of looking at the wor ld. A theory is a set of interrelated
propositions or concepts made to answer a que stion or explain a specific sensation; it
provides us with a perspective. Sociological theor ies assist united states to describe and predict the social
world where we reside. Sociology includes three major theoretical perspec tives: the functionalist viewpoint, the
conflict viewpoint, and symbolic interactioni st viewpoint (often called the
interactionist perspective, or simply just the micro vie w). Each perspective offers a variety of
explanations towards social globe and individual behav ior.
Functionalist Perspective
The functionalist viewpoint is situated largely in the works of Herbert Spencer, Emile Durkheim,
Talcott Parsons, and Robert Merton. According to f unctionalism, culture is a method of
interconnected parts that interact in harmony to keep up a situation of balance and social
equilibrium for your. Like, all of th e social institutions contributes important
functions for culture: Family provides a context fo r reproducing, nurturing, and socializing
children; training provides a method to transmit a soci ety’s abilities, knowledge, and tradition to its youth;
politics provides an easy method of governing users of s ociety; economics offers up the
production, distribution, and consumption of items and services; and religion provides moral
guidance and an outlet for worship of a greater powe r.
The functionalist perspective emphasizes the inter connectedness of culture by focusing
on just how each part influences and is influenced by ot the girl components. For instance, the rise in single-
parent and dual-earner families has contributed toward range young ones that are failing in
school because moms and dads have grown to be less available t o supervise their children’s homework. As a
result of changes in technology, colleges are offer ing more technical programs, and many adults
are time for college to understand new abilities that ar age required in the workplace. The increasing
number of females inside workforce has contributed toward formula of policies against sexual
harassment and job discrimination. Functionalists utilize the terms practical and dysfunctional to explain the results of social
elements on society. Components of culture are funct ional should they subscribe to social security and
dysfunctional when they disrupt social stability. So me personally aspects of society may be both practical and
dysfunctional. For example, crime is dysfunctional in that its connected with assault,
loss of property, and fear. But based on Durkh eim along with other functionalists, crime is also
functional for society because it results in heighten ed awareness of provided moral bonds and
increased social cohesion. Sociologists have identified two forms of functions: manifest and latent (Merton 1968).
Manifest functions are consequences being intended and commonly re cognized. Latent
functions are effects which are unintended and sometimes hid den. For example, the manifest
function of training should transfer knowledge and skills to society’s youth. But public
elementary schools also act as babysitters for em ployed parents, and universities offer a spot for
young grownups to satisfy potential mates. The baby-sit ting and mate-selection functions are not the
intended or commonly recognized functions of educat ion; hence they are latent functions.
The Three principal Sociological Perspectives
Conflict Perspective
The functionalist perspective views culture as comp osed of various components working together. In
contrast, the conflict perspective views culture as consists of different groups and interest
competing for power and resources. The conflict pe rspective describes various facets of our
social globe by evaluating which groups have actually energy and take advantage of a specific social
arrangement. As an example, feminist theory argues t cap we inhabit a patriarchal society—a
hierarchical system of organization managed by m en. Even though there are numerous varieties of
feminist theory, most would hold that feminism “dem ands that existing financial, governmental, and
social structures be changed” (Weir and Faulkner 20 04, p.xii).
The origins associated with conflict perspective is tra ced towards the classic works of Karl Marx.
Marx recommended that all societies proceed through stages of economic development. As societies
evolve from agricultural to commercial, concern ove r conference success needs is replaced by concern
over making a profit, the hallmark of a capitalist system. Industrialization causes the
development of two classes of individuals: the bourgeois ie, and/or owners of means of production
(e.g., factories, farms, organizations); and also the prole tariat, or the employees who make wages.
The division of culture into two broad classes of people—the “haves” as well as the “have-
nots”—is beneficial to the owners of method of p roduction. The employees, who may make only
subsistence wages, are rejected use of the countless re sources available to the rich owners.
According to Marx, the bourgeoisie utilize their capacity to get a handle on the organizations of culture to their
advantage. As an example, Marx recommended that religi on functions as an “opiate for the masses” in that
it soothes the stress and suffering associated wi th the working-class life style and focuses the
workers’ attention on spirituality, Jesus, therefore the af terlife in place of on such worldly issues as
living conditions. Essentially, faith diverts th e workers so they pay attention to being
rewarded in paradise for living a moral life instead t han on questioning their exploitation.
Symbolic Interactionist Perspective
Both the functionalist as well as the conflict viewpoint s are worried with just how broad aspects of
society, such as for instance organizations and large social grou ps, impact the social world. This degree of
sociological analysis is called macro sociology: It talks about the picture as a whole of culture and sugges ts
how social problems are affected at organization al level.
Micro sociology, another degree of sociological analysis, is concer ned aided by the social
psychological dynamics of an individual interacting i n small teams. Symbolic interactionism
reflects the micro-sociological viewpoint, and wa s mostly affected by the job of early
sociologists and philosophers, such as for example George Simme l, Charles Cooley, George Herbert Mead,
and Erving Goffman. Symbolic interactionism emphas izes that human behavior is influenced by
definitions and definitions being created and maint ained through symbolic discussion with
others. Sociologist W.I. Thomas (1966) emphasized the impo rtance of definitions and meanings
in social behavior and its particular effects. He sugges ted that people respond to their definition of
a situation as opposed to towards objective situation it self. Thus Thomas noted that situations that
we define as genuine become real in their consequences.
Symbolic interactionism also suggests that our ide ntity or feeling of self is shaped by social
interaction. We develop our self-concept by observ ing just how others interact with us a label us. By
observing just how other people view united states, we see a reflection o urselves that Cooley calls the “looking glass

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