Social Structure

Essay by Dream82University, Bachelor'sA+, December 2004

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Topic: Social Structure

In order for us to understand why sociological theories could be classified into 'consensus' and 'conflict' perspectives it may be best to first define these concepts. Consensus is a concept of society in which the absence of conflict is seen as the equilibrium state of society based on a general or widespread agreement among all members of a particular society. Conflict can be overt or covert, stemming from the range of possible differentiations.

Conflict theory emphasizes those conflicts inherent to human society [Jary & Jary, 2000:105]. Its discourse is the emergence and causes of conflict within a particular human society. Some say that conflict theory deals with the incompatible aspects of human society.

Emerging from the sociology of social order and social stability/social regulation, consensus theory is a sociological perspective in which social order and stability/social regulation form the base of emphasis. It is concerned with the maintenance or continuation of social order in society; in relation to the norms, values, rules and regulations that are widely or collectively accepted within a particular society.

Both consensus and conflict sociological theories are reflected in the works of certain dominant social theorists. Classical social theorists such as Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber as well as other prominent social theorists such as Talcott Parsons & Robert Merton, Louis Althusser & Ralph Dahrendorf, Herbert Mead & Herbert Blumer. The conflict and consensus perspectives of sociological theories have been divided into four categories or four paradigms (frames of reference) in which human beings see the world. On the conflict perspective we have the Radical Humanism paradigm & the Radical Structuralism paradigm. On the consensus perspective we have Interpretive Sociology & (Structural) Functionalism/Systems Analysis. Each of the classical and modern social theorists (and their theories) above are slotted into...