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Transcript of Sociological Theories
Emerald Joiner Sociological Theories Functionalism Conflict What is Theory? Theory: general statement about how some parts of the world fit together and how they work
Explanation of how two or more facts are related to one another
Set of statements that explain why a phenomenon occur
Produce knowledge, guide our research, help us analyze findings and offer solutions for social problems
Sociologists place their observations into a framework called a theory Symbolic Interactionism Focus:
Use of SYMBOLS
Things we attach meaning to
Key to how we view the world and communicate with one another
Face-to-Face interactions Sociologists look at:
Consider symbols and details of everyday life
What do they mean?
How people interact with each other Symbolic Interactionism Symbolic Interactionism Charles Horton Cooley (1864-1929)
George Herbert Mead (1863-1931)
Developed this perspective Cooley Mead Symbolic Interactionism Everyday Life:
Without symbols, there would basically be nothing to our life
Everything in our lives consist of symbols
Anything can serve as a symbol as long as there is meaning beyond it Symbolic Interactionism Example: Birthday Party
Cake and Ice Cream
Goody Bags Guests
Making a Wish
Decorations Symbolic Interactionsim Society attaches general meanings to these symbols
Individuals still have their own perception Functionalism Focus:
Relationship between parts of society
How aspects of society are functional
Society is a whole; made up of small parts that work together
Avoid social change
Believe people cooperate for social order Functionalism Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer
Viewed society as living organism
Like a person/animal, it has parts that work together Comte Spencer Functionalism Emile Durkheim:
Viewed society as being composed of many parts
"Normal" state: all parts of society fulfill their functions
"Abnormal" state: society not fulfilling their functions Functionalism Functionalists look at:
Structure-Society as a whole and the parts that make it up
Function-What each part does for society Functionalism Robert Merton (1910-2003)
Functions-beneficial aspects of society
Dysfunctions-consequences that harm society
Manifest functions-intended action to help
Latent functions-unintended consequence Functionalism Example:
Latent Dysfunction-consequence that is unintended
Human action that is hurting the system Conflict Focus:
Third perspective on social life
Negative conflicts of society
Groups in society are competing with one another for resources
Struggle for power
Like social change
Elite control the poor and weak Conflict Karl Marx:
"Who gets what and why?"
Key conflict in society was economic
Class struggles Conflict Conflict today:
Potential for inequality
-Race, gender, politics, economic, religious
Unequal groups have conflicting issues resulting in them competing against one another
Ever-changing nature of society comes from the constant battle of competition Conflict Lewis Coser:
Conflict is easy to find in people who are in relationships
Distributed responsibilities, power and privileges
Changing this results in hurt feelings and conflict Conflict Levels of Sociology MACRO:
Large social patterns
Small social patterns
Specific events Functionalism Conflict Examples:
Civil Rights Movement
War in Iraq
Prestige Overview Symbolic Interactionism:
Use of symbols attaching meaning to something
How parts of society work together to form a whole
How groups compete against one another for resources
Everyone should be treated fairly and feel injustice for their sex Questions Asked? Why do people behave the way they do?
Why is society structured like it is?
What holds society together?
What pulls it apart? Contemporary Sociological Theories Modern sociologists developed theoretical explanations that reflected their social and historical contexts.
Anti-Vietnam protests during the 1960's and 1970's Contemporary Sociological Theories Sociologists use more than one theory in explaining human behavior
All of them try to explain why society is organized the way it is and why we behave the way we do
The most influential theory perspectives are
Symbolic Interactionism Criticisms of Functionalism Some people believe that functionalism is so focused on order and stability that it often ignores social change.
Functionalists see high divorce rates as dysfunctional instead of seeing the positive change.
Person leaving an unhappy situation Conflict Asks certain questions like who benefits? Or who loses?
Important in explaining how societies create and cope with disagreements
Many conflict theories focus on how these in power, dominate political and economic decision making in U.S. society Conflict There are two ruling class social groups...
The Ruling Class derives its power from its ownership and control of the forces of production. The ruling class exploits and oppresses the Subject Class.
George Orwell’s Animal Farm Animal Farm Feminist Symbolic
Interactionism Feminist Approaches that try to explain the social, economic, and political position of women in society with a view to freeing women from traditionally oppressive expectations, constraints, roles, and behaviors.
They feel that women suffer injustice because of their sex, and that people should be treated fairly. Feminist Liberal Feminism: Emphasizes social and legal reform to create equal opportunities for women
Radical Feminism: sees male dominance in social institutions as the major cause of women’s inequality
Global Feminism: Focuses on how the intersection of gender with race, social class, and colonization has exploited women in the developing world. Symbolic Interactionism Traffic light
After 9/11 many Americans displayed the flag on buildings, homes and cars to show their pride for the United States