Development of social theory

Essay by llollipoppiCollege, Undergraduate March 2006

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This essay will evaluate the structural and action perspectives in sociology. The two quadrants of Sociology perspectives are Structure and Action theories. Functionalism is a structure theory, which looks at different parts of society work and how they together as a whole. Marxism is also a structure theory, which looks at society in economic terms also dealing with class conflict. Feminism looks at removing gender inequalities. Action Theories believe in free will, and that individuals make choices that shape society. The above are Macro-sociologies. This essay will also show some insight to the action theory of symbolic interaction, which is a Micro-sociology. Symbolic interaction studies small groups and individuals within society, along with how they interact with each other.

In society, there are several social divisions, one of the most prominent being stratification. This essay will apply each perspective to stratification so that they do not appear abstract. The quadrants tend to take a consensus or conflict view on society and this essay will show some insight into the differences.

Functionalism is a structural perspective, which looks at society as a whole and not at the individuals who act within it. Comparisons have been made to the human biological system. As the human body needs organs such as the heart, brain and lungs to survive, so does society. Institutions such as family, law and education systems are the main structure of society according to functionalists and they work together in order to shape society as a whole. The family will teach a newborn child the norms and values, the education systems will also input into this, and the child will learn how it should behave within society. This process is socialization. It is a consensus theory and Parsons Value consensus helps to maintain social order within society, which is essential...