Introduction to Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology

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Introduction to Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology

Edward Cordero

The first theoretical perspective in sociology is called Functional Analysis Functional Analysis is the theory that society is made up of different parts that collaborate to promote unity and equality Functional Analysis is sometimes referred to as functionalism and structural functionalism Henslin 2012 p 24 Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer both outstanding sociologists developed this theory because they believed society is similar as living organisms By comparing society to living organisms and their organs Comte and Spencer concluded that in order for a humans or animals to function properly their organs must work together In this case in order for society to be prosperous people must work as a team to make it happen Emile Durkheim saw nothing different about Comte and Spencers judgement He also stressed the idea that society is made up of many parts that works together to fulfill their functions Henslin 2012 p 25 What differs Durkheim from Comte and Herbert is that he acknowledged society as being normal Henslin 2012 p 25 if each part of society is working together as a team If society does not collaborate then it is deemed an abnormal or pathological state Henslin 2012 p 25 Robert Merton developed a scale to measure the consequences of peoples action in a society If a person does something that is purposeful to society it is called a manifest function If a person does something that is not planned to help society change it is called a latent function A negative consequence that causes damage to society is called a dysfunction When functionalists conduct their research it is important that they target large groups such as industries organizations or structures because Functional Analysis is a macro analysis Macrolevel analysis is supposedly designed to target large scale patterns in society Henslin 2012 p 28 Situations that attract functionalists attention can include how the parts of society fit together to make the whole and what each part does and how it contributes to society Henslin 2012 p 25 Functional Analysis is important because this is the area that helps sociologists examine and explain social phenomena that can have a positive or negative impact

The second theoretical perspective of sociology is the Conflict Theory The Conflict Theory is the idea that society is made of different groups that compete each other for scarce resources The Industrial Revolution that transformed Europe has prompted sociologist Karl Marx to develop this perspective on social life Marx believes that in a society a higher class group exists and controls the lower class According to sociologist Lewis Coser he believes conflict is most likely to develop among people who are in close relationships Henslin 2012 p 27 Therefore if a negative change occurs in the arrangement on how power or privilege is distributed in their society it could lead to conflicts Conflict theorists also focuses on large groups when conducting research because Conflict Theory is a macro analysis They target structures groups countries and even cultures The strength of the Conflict Theory is that it allows conflict theorists to examine the change of a circumstance and understand the conflict that comes along This allows better understanding on why events such as protests occur in society today When conflict theorists conduct research they look at how opposing interest run through every layer of society Henslin 2012 p 27 or what causes inequality in a society What also gains their attention is when they try to understand how the upper class controls their power on the lower class

The third theoretical perspective in sociology is called Symbolic Interactionism Symbolic Interactionism is the theory that society uses symbols that have meaning to communicate with one another and to understand the world around them Sociologists George Herbert Mead and Charles Cooley teamed up to design this theory to better understand our social life Symbolic Intera

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