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Sociological Theories

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Ruth Cuerdo

on 11 July 2013

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Transcript of Sociological Theories

Sociological Theories
Functionalist Theory
Symbolic Interaction Theory
Conflict Theory
Émile Durkheim
Parts of society are integrated by a shared consciousness, a shared set of values - collective conscience.
Societies or social systems work like organic system
Any part of social life has to be understood in terms of the way it functions to maintain the whole social structure.
Parts of society are assumed to be interconnected and interrelated.
Talcott Parsons
Structural Functionalism
Society & Function
"To love society is to love something beyond us and something in ourselves"
There are certain basic requirements that must be met for the society to exist and survive - functional prerequisites.
Society needs the functional contributions of certain types of structure if it is to continue as a system .
The direction in which the structure changes is determined by the contents of culture, a common normative system.
Karl Marx
"The history of all hitherto existing society
is the history of class struggles"
Society & Conflict
In all societies that have existed so far, there has been a broad division into two classes, one of which exploits the other.
Two essential components of a society:
economic base (substructure) - provides the material needs of life (forces of production and relations of productions)
superstructure - the rest of the society.
The conflict between material forces and social relations is Marx’s most important example of a structural contradiction.
Max Weber
The basis of sociological analysis was the meaning that individuals give to the social world and their situation in it.
The importance that Weber attached to explaining individual social action and to the notion of 'verstehen' demonstrates his role as the founder of the interpretative approach in sociology, which focused on the individual and the process of social interaction.
The key to understanding behavior is the ability to attach meaning to everything that we experience.
The symbolic interactionism attempts to explain human behavior and do this by examining the social influences on behavior.
The most important influence on individuals’ behavior is the behavior of other towards them rather than the influence of social structure.
Human behavior is different from others because it uses symbols and attaches meanings to them especially in the form of language.

Society is constituted by an exchange of gestures and language (symbols) which stand for mental process.
George Herbert Mead


Macionis, J. (2007). Sociology 11th ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall

Marsh, I. (ed.). (1996). Making Sense of Society: An Introduction to Sociology. New York: Addison Wesley Longman Ltd.

Walters, M. (1994). Modern Sociological Theory. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

In reviewing these different theoretical approaches it is important to emphasize that sociology is more than the sum of different theories.

The sociological perspective is not tied to one theoretical point of view and sociologists should be able to use a range of different theories.
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