Major Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology

Major Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology

Major Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology

Sociology as science employs views or theories to know, explain, analyze and interpret social phenomena. To interpret social facts, they have to be subjected to a theoretical framework. A theory could also be outlined as a general statement regarding how some elements of the planet match along with match they work (Macionis,1997). Scupin and DeCorse (1995) outline a theory as a collection of interconnected hypotheses that provide general explanations for natural or social phenomena. (Major theoretical perspectives in sociology)

It should also be noted that the terms “perspectives” and “schools of thought” are often used interchangeably with the term “theory”. Major Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology

There are 3 major theoretical views in social science that have provided an overall framework for social science studies. These are structural functionalism, social conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism. Some theories have emerged challenging these major ones. Major Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology

Levels of Sociological Analysis

The Structural-Functionalist Theory

This is every one of the dominant theories in social science and sociology. It is sometimes called functionalism. The theory tries to clarify however the relationships among the elements of society are created and the way these elements are useful (meaning having useful consequences to the individual and the society) and dysfunctional (meaning having negative consequences). It focuses on the accord, social order, structure, and performance in society. (Major theoretical perspectives in sociology)

The structural-functionalist theory sees society as a fancy system whose elements work along with market commonality and stability; it states that our social lives are radio-controlled by a social organization that is comparatively stable patterns of social behavior (Macionis, 1997). Social organization is known in terms of affairs, that are consequences for the operations of society. All social organization contributes to the operation of society. The most important terms and ideas developed by anthropologists and sociologists during this theory embody (or the speculation focuses on): order, structure, operation (manifest or direct functions and latent or hidden, indirect functions), and equilibrium.

Those hold this view ask such questions as what holds society together? What keeps it steady? The Structural-functionalist theory pays sizable attention to the persistence of shared ideas in society. The functional aspect of the structural-functionalist theory stresses the role played by each party in the social system, whereas the structural perspective suggests an image of society wherein individuals are constrained by the social forces, social backgrounds, and cluster memberships. Major Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology

Many of the great early founding sociologists such as Auguste Comte, Emile Durkheim, and Herbert Spencer and later American sociologists like Talkot Parsons and Robert  K  Merton.    Structural-functionalist theorists in modern sociology are more likely to follow in the tradition of the writings of particularly Emile Durkheim, who is regarded as the pioneering proponent of this perspective (Hensiln and Nelson, 1995). (major theoretical perspectives in sociology)

The Social Conflict Theory

This theory is additionally referred to as Marxism; to point out that the most impetus to the speculation derives from the writings of Karl Marx This theory sees society in an exceedingly framework of sophistication conflicts and focuses on the struggle for scarce resources by completely different teams in an exceedingly given society. It asks such queries as what pulls society apart. How does society change? The theory holds that the foremost necessary facet of social order is the domination of some clusters by others, that actual or potential conflicts are continually gifts in society. The writings of Karl Marx are generally in the spirit of conflict theory, and Marxism influences most of the conflict theorists in modern sociology.

The theory is beneficial in explaining how the dominant teams use their power to take advantage of the less powerful teams in society. Key ideas developed during this perspective embody conflict, complementation, struggle, power, inequality, and exploitation. Major Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology

Although this theory gained fame in recent decades, it came below sharp criticism, for its emphasis on difference and division, for neglecting the actual fact of how shared values and mutuality generate unity among members of society; it’s conjointly criticized for its specific political goals. Another critique that equally applies conjointly to structural functionalism is that it sees society is terribly broad terms, neglecting micro-level social realities (Macionis 1997).

Symbolic Interactionism

This theory was advanced by such American sociologists as Charles Horton Cooley (1864-1929) William I Thomas   (1863-1947) and George Herbert Mead (1863-1931) in the early 20th century. This perspective views symbols because of the basis of social life. Symbols are things to which we attach meanings.

The theory stresses the analysis of how our behaviors rely on how we tend to outline others and ourselves. It concentrates on method, instead of structure, and keeps the individual actor in the middle. inline with symbolic interactionism, the essence of social life and social reality is that the active soul attempts to form a sense of social things. In short, this theory calls attention to the careful, person-oriented processes that surface at intervals in the larger units of social life (Calhoun et al, 1994; Henslin and Viscount Nelson, 1996; Soroka, 1995).

As indicated above, there are contemporary sociological theories that have emerged in recent decades that have heavily influenced sociological and anthropological thinking. These include the following: Major Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology


This theory takes as its central theme the place and facts of women’s disadvantaged standing and their exploitation in an exceedingly patriarchally dominated society. Feminist social science focuses on the actual disadvantages, as well as oppression and exploitation moon-faced by girls in society. This theory ranges from liberal feminism, which acknowledges inequalities, however, believes that reform will surface while not a basic restructuring of the social structure, to radical feminism, which advocates the elemental would like for social group modification (Marcus and Ducklin, 1998: 32) Major Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology

Social Exchange Theory

This theory focuses on “the prices and edges which individuals get in social interaction, as well as cash, goods, and status. It’s supported the principle that individuals continually act to maximize profit. However, to receive edges, there should always be an associate degree exchange method with others” (Marcus and Ducklin, 1996: 26)

Public Choice Theory:

This theory states that collective organizations like political parties act rationally to maximize their own edges. It argues that individual differences are best resolved by collective involvement within organizations. The role of the state is vital in arbitrating between large-scale interests. Major Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology

Rational Choice Theory:

This theory assumes that individuals will operate in a rational way and will seek to benefit themselves in the life choices they make.


This theory denies any basis for humans being active since human consciousness isn’t any longer seen because the basis of which means in language. Structuralism differs from the thought of ancient theories in this it rejects objective social facts associated with degreed a thought of society as an objective, external entity. It defines social reality in terms of the relations between events, not in terms of things and social facts. Its principle is that the evidence is purposeful solely into a date because it may be associated with an associate degree underlying structure or order (Swingwood, 1984). Major Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology

The equivalent of structuralism in social science, advanced by its famed French structuralist social scientist, Claude Levi-Strauss, states that “the origin of universal principles that order the ways in which during which we tend to behave and have confidence the planet is to be found within the structure of human thought.”(Howard and DunaifHattis, 1992:373). The matter with this theory is that they read societies as static and don’t facilitate noticeably in explaining variation among societies. The speculation treats culture as a given order and fails to clarify the adaptative dimensions of culture. Major Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology

Major Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology



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