Theory: Sociology and Major Theoretical Perspective Essay

Submitted By mmcintosh3
Words: 1567
Pages: 7

Myah McIntosh
Social Theory
March 17, 2013
Theoretical Perspectives

The major theoretical perspectives of sociology include symbolic interactionism, structural functionalism, conflict theory, ethnomethodology, dramaturgical analysis, exchange theory, world systems theory, and feminist theory. I am going to describe each topic by explaining the key concepts, the logic of the perspective, the macro and micro perspective, their major contributors, their most influential period, and social phenomena that best explains the topic. Symbolic interactionism is one of the major theoretical perspectives of sociology that places emphasis on micro social interaction. It focuses on the analysis of patterns involving interpretation, communication and adjustment between individuals. The main concept of this perspective is symbols and how people use these symbols to interact with one another through society. This theory was began by theorist George H. Mead and Charles H. Cooley in the early 1900’s. It wasn’t until after Mead’s death in 1931 did his former student, Herbert Blumer, organize three premises of the theoretical perspective in 1969. The first was "Humans act toward things on the basis of the meanings they ascribe to those things." Then ,"The meaning of such things is derived from, or arises out of, the social interaction that one has with others and the society.", and lastly, "These meanings are handled in, and modified through, an interpretative process used by the person in dealing with the things he/she encounters." Structural functionalism is another major theoretical perspective of sociology focused on the macro perspective of society and its functions. Functionalism consists of different but related parts that serve a particular purpose. The main concept was for sociologist to be able to explain social structures and social behavior in relation to a society and its functions. Auguste Comte began this perspective in the 1800’s. Later, Emile Durkheim compared society to the human body. He was a functionalist. His example was the body consisting of different but related organs that help the body survive while society also consists of different but related things that make it possible for the society to survive. Structural functionalism concentrates mostly on positive and negative functions of the social structures. Individuals have little to no control over which particular structures operate and how. Structural functionalists understand individuals by social positions. For example, when Kingsley Davis and Wilbur Moore discuss the stratification, they don’t refer to people, but to the positions these people occupy. Individuals who are ranked, positions are. Positions are ranked according to the degree that they contribute to the survival of society. The structural functionalist account of stratification has been criticized because it is said that there must be other ways to motivate individuals to occupy most positions and perform tasks without a system of rewards. Another theoretical perspective is conflict theory. It focuses on the macro perspective of conflicts in society. Conflict theory focuses on concepts that suggest that human behavior results from conflicts between competing groups. The most notable conflict is that of the social classes. This originated from Karl Marx in the 1800’s. It is commonly noted that different social groups have different status and power. For example, upper class has more money and power than lower class. This shows that different social groups have unequal power, which creates a power struggle for the same unlimited recourses. The conflict theory focuses on the negative nature of society. Unlike functionalists who defend the norms and status quo, conflict theorists challenge the status quo, and are ever-changing. For example, Conflict theorists can interpret a top board of regents raising tuition to pay for rigorous new programs that raise the intelligence and