Functionalist, Conflict, and Interaction Theory
There are three major theories that depict how sociologists view the world. The theories are functionalist, conflict, and interaction theory. Each of these has its own view points of how people affect society, and how society affects the people. Each theory has its own group of sociologist to go with it. The theory that a sociologist picks to back has an effect on how they do research and how they look at problems. (Schaefer)
The first theory is Structural Functional Theory, or functionalism. Functionalism is one of the oldest theories, and is still used today. In functionalism society is made up of different parts, and these parts work together to keep the society stable. Functionalism relies very much on the scientific method. By relying on the scientific method, the study of sociology can be observed in the same way one would view the physical world. (McClelland)
Most of the ideas of functionalism came from Emile Durkheim. He was a French sociologist that wrote the basis for functionalist theory. Durkheim was one of the first sociologists to use the scientific method and statistical techniques in sociological research. Talcott Parson played a major part in the development of functionalism also. He was a sociologist from Harvard University. He saw that society worked as a whole, with a system of connected parts that made the whole stable. (McClelland)
In functionalism, change is said to happen when pressure is put on individuals by social structures. This is what is known as a macro theory. Macro theories work from the society downward, the society forces the people to change, not the people change society.
As a real world example of how functionalism is applied I will use elder abuse. When there is a problem such as elder abuse, a functionalist would say there is a dysfunction. Functionalists acknowledge that things do not always contribute to the stability of society all the time. The...