Sociology is the academic study of individuals and groups in the society. Sociology is all about the ways in which people form the society which they live in and how being a member in society influences each of us in different ways. There are many different points of views in society. Sociology has to study in different perspectives to understand the society a lot better. From interpretation to social behaviour, sociologists study everything from specific events (the micro of analysis which study on a small scale) to the “big picture” (the macro level of examination on a large scale).
Marxism is a sociological perception who’s founding father is Karl Marx (1818-83). For Marxists, the system we live in is called capitalism. This theory is mainly about the class conflict between the lower class (Proletariat) and the upper class (Bourgeoisie). Marx called the upper class Bourgeoisie because they control society and all the socialising institutions. Marxism is a structuralism theory as it sees the individual more important than the social structure of society and it is a macro theory. The Bourgeoisie own the means of production and the Proletariat work for the Bourgeoisie while they get paid far less than they deserve. Marxists argue that the Proletariat rarely challenge the Bourgeoisie because they control the family, education, media and religion. Louis Althusser (1971) argued that the purpose of those cultural intuitions is to maintain class inequality. Ruling class pass off norms and values as “normal” to the institutions such as family, religion, education and mass media. Marxists refer these ruling class ideas as “ideology”. Socialisation is an ideological process in that its main aim is to transmit the ruling class idea that capitalist society is based on meritocracy. Most of us aren’t aware of our “real” identity as oppressed workers. This is what Marxists call “false class consciousness”.
Functionalism is a structuralism theory as it sees the society more important than the individual. It is a “top down” theory. Functionalists study the role of different parts of society – social institution – in bringing about the patterns of shared and stable behaviour that they refer to social order. Functionalism sees the society as an organic analogy. This when the society is seen like a body because all the parts of the body depend on each other just like a society does. Functionalist’s sociologists see the society as based on value consensus and that there is harmony and agreement between the members about basic values. Sharing the same culture in the society creates solidarity and social integration. The founding father of functionalism is Talcott Parsons (1902-79). He argued that socialisation is the key to understand human behaviour pattern. The role of all the socialising institutions is to pass on socially acceptable patterns of behaviour. Durkheim, another functionalist sociologist believed that the function of social institutions was to promote and maintain social cohesion and unity. For example, the family is one of the main institutions for socialisation because the children learn norms and values from their early life.
On the other hand, social action theory also known as internationalism theory reject the structuralism hypothesis that the social behaviour is determined. They see people as having a more positive and active role in society. Social action theory is a ‘bottom up’ theory because it considers rather than society. Social action theorists argue that society is the product of people coming together in social groups and trying to make sense