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Sociology Theory

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Eric Davis

on 6 July 2015

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Transcript of Sociology Theory

How is social order maintained?
How do power and inequality shape outcomes?
How do we construct our worlds and ourselves through interaction?
How does group membership (especially class, race, and gender) shape opportunity?
What responsibility do sociologists bear to bring about positive social change?
Social Order...
How is social order possible?

Different sociological perspectives try to answer this question from different angles (different sets of assumptions about how
the world operates)

Macro-level
= focus on social institutions
and how society influences the individual

Micro-level
= focus is on interactions between individuals, how societal characteristics reflect the perceptions
of individuals
Social Order
Sociology 101
Overview of Sociology Theory
Functionalism
Functionalism begins with the idea that any stable system begins with the idea that any stable system (such as the human body) consists of a number of different, but interrelated, parts that operate together to create an overall order" (Levin, 1991)

Secondly, Functionalism is centered on the idea that individual members of [a] social system... generally endorse the same basic [cultural] values and beliefs. (Delaney and Madigan, 2009)

Lastly, Functionalism posits that the Society naturally wants equilibium and stability--such that the interrelated parts of any society simply work as needed to maintain balance at all costs.

Conflict Theory
Conflict theory focuses on the role of
power and inequality
found in society. Marx noted that human history has been highlighted by a class struggle between those with power (the elite and/or privileged) and those without power (the masses and/or exploited).
Inevitably, those with power (e.g. the "haves") like things as they are and want to maintain the
status quo
. Those without power (e.g the "have-nots") want to gain it.
Dominant Ideology
: the notion that there is a "right" path and a "right" way to live and a "right" way to be... And, if one simply follows the Dominant Narrative, your American Dream will come to pass. Guaranteed...

False Consciousness:
the inability to clearly see where one's own best interests lie.

Opiate: a drug used to dull the senses and take you away from reality of your life
Symbolic Interactionism:
how people interact with one another through the use of language and gestures
Human beings act toward things on the basis of meanings that they have for them
Meaning of such things is derived from, or arises out of, the social interaction that one as with others
These meanings are handled in, and modified through, an interpretative process used by the person in dealing with the things she encounters
Human behavior involves choices made based on: meanings, or definitions of the situation.
Interactionism is a micro theory focused on individuals, whereas Functionalism and Conflict are macro theories focused on institutions that shape or society.
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