Theories and Perspectives in Sociology, Understanding sociological Theory In the study of how society works, sociologists use theories, to help explain human behaviour. Within sociology, there are several theories and perspectives used to do this. These are divided into three main theories structural functional, Conflict and social action theory. The social action theory is micro a study of society, this theory looks at individual’s behaviour and how individuals interact with each other. As stated in Giddens, sociologists who support this theory see individuals as not created by society but as the creators of society.
Assess the Usefulness of Micro Sociology to Our Understanding of Society Assess the usefulness of micro sociology to our understanding of society (33marks) Micro sociology focuses on the actions and interactions of individuals and is a bottom-up approach. Such micro approaches, see society as shaped by its members, who possess agency, in other words, the ability to act as free agents. Micro approaches, also known as action theories, include social action theory, symbolic interactionism, phenomenology and ethnomethodoly. However, macro sociologists take a deterministic approach, as they believe that our actions are determined by society. Macro theories include Functionalism and Marxism, who see individuals as puppets, under the control of social structures.
For example the nature vs nurture debate. Talcott parsons (1902-79) were a key functionalist thinker. He saw society as a system made up of interrelated institutions (like the human body) He thought the main role of an institution was to socialise individuals so they behaved in acceptable ways. He argued that socialisation is the key to understanding patterns of human behaviour. Our behaviour is controlled by the rules of society into which we are born; the result is we don’t have to be told that what we are doing is socially unacceptable- we already know and feel uncomfortable if we don’t conform to social norms.
These combine to form the infrastructure and the superstructure i.e. education, politics, norms and values all support the dominant system determined by economic factors” Haralambos, M & Holborn, M (2000) Marxism believed that there was class conflict between the bourgeoisies (upper class/owners of land, factories etc) and the Proletariat (the working class/middle class). The Marxism theory was also a macro sociological theory as it views society in the ‘bigger picture’. The functionalist theory is different in the way that it is a consensus theory; this means that everything in society functions as individual parts that as a whole create society. Functionalists look at society like the human body; both human parts and parts of society have certain needs that need to be met if they are to survive.
Functionalism is a macro, structuralist theory. This means they see human behaviour being shaped as an influence of social forces. It is also seen as a consensus theory, as functionalists’ argue that, individuals are socialised into a shared value to ensure conformity and social order. However, this functionalists approach is criticised by action theorists, as they argue that individuals create society through their interactions. Unlike other functionalists, Parsons argues that individuals are integrated through socialisation and social order.
How this will be accomplished will be by comparing and contrasting their assumptions. Then I will state my opinion on which of the two better fits my personal sociological views. Functionalism and the conflict theory are sociological perspectives that present different assertions of studying the society and how the resultant perspectives of the society are enhanced. The functionalist perspective perceives the society as a system and on a large scale. The functionalist perspective presents social moulding of an individual rather than use of force to the individual in order to carry out societal roles.
The relationship between these two is they both help us find reasoning and uncover why many things in society are the way they are while also uncovering the bigger picture. Thus having the end goal of being able to have control and/or understanding over one’s life through certain actions. Researchers use sociological imagination to explain social things typically ignored by people steeped in individualism. They do this by having their subjects think about topics in society that have led to some sort of outcome, and get them to understand what causes led to that result. Outcomes are shaped by (but are not limited to) social norms, motives, and the social context (country, time period, and people they associate themselves with).
Therefore the law did not resolve conflicting interests but imposed the interests of one group over another. While this can still happen today it seems that the law does try hard to make sure everyone is satisfied and everyone’s interests are accounted for. Rudolf von Jhering said that the law is the main way of ordering society, his views was that the rights of the majority should take precedence over the individual. He said that society is made up of conflicting interests that cannot all be satisfied and that the role of the law was to balance them out so the individual conformed to the needs of society. Roscoe Pound said that interests are both individual and social and that conflicts are only resolved through considering them on the same level.
The key concern for Structuralist is to understand social behaviour by looking at the structures. They believe crime and deviance can only be explained by looking at the way society is organised, they also emphasis that crime is caused by society rather than the circumstance of the individual. In this essay I will refer to Structuralist view of crime and deviance. They Stress that society needs order, seeking to explain the social world with the reference to main structures, systems and intuitions. The consensus theory (agreement) also suggests that the structures in the system and institutions all are healthy to help function and maintain cohesion in society, binding individuals together for common good.
The sociological perspective helps us to see general social patterns in the behavior of particular individuals and offers insights about the social world that extend far beyond explanations that rely on individuals quirks and personalities. Essential to the sociological perspective is the wider society, which means going beyond the individual and understanding how structural forces shape individuals and their actions. The sociological perspective is the view that human beings are influenced more by the environment they live in than our genetic makeup. By viewing social problems from a sociological perspective, we can be concerned with changing our society and laws, and the way in