Family and the Sociological Theories Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 28 September 2016

Family and the Sociological Theories

Since time immemorial, men have been petrified by sociology. The most basic definition of sociology is the study of human social behavior and grouping (Alexander, 1982). Sociology largely focuses on social relationships and the ramifications of these relationships on peoples’ behavior. There have been numerous attempts to understand and explain seemingly challenging situations in a society. These attempts constitute the various sociological theories which are geared towards giving explanations to the various phenomena in the society (Alexander, 1982). It is within the scope of this study to highlight on the impact of the sociological theories on the family institution.


Sociological theories are sets of statements that endeavor to offer explanations to problems, phenomena, or human behavior (Alexander, 1982). Normally these theories are both explanatory and are versed with the ability to predict predictive on some occurrences in society. Essentially such a theory can assist in seeing the synergy among seemingly remote social phenomena (Turner, 2006).

The family is the basic social institution and everyone belongs to one. The behaviors of the various family members in one family may be petrifying. There are various explanations of the various behaviors and phenomena in the family offered by the three sociological theories (Turner, 2006).

The impacts of these behaviors as explained by the sociological theories are quite interesting and will be studied in this study. The sociological theories in mind are the functionalism, conflict, and interactionism theories. The events of the various members in the family can be sufficiently summarized by the explanations offered by these theories. It is from these events that the characteristics and roles of the various family members are based. This study will highlight the particular impact of each of theses theories on the family institution.


Various relevant literary materials featuring research done on the subject of sociology and sociological theories are studied keenly in bid to reveal on the explanation of sociology and social behavior through the sociological theories. The data gathered and analyzed in the study is carefully studied to shed some light on the interesting history in the impact of the various theories on the occurrences witnessed in the family institution. The studies did not leave behind information which highlighted on the impact of these theories on the behaviors of individual family members and how they interact.

The results are collected from these secondary sources, analyzed and presented using the trendiest of modern scientific methods. The interplay between the various sociological theories as they impact the family institution will be highlighted in the discussion part of this study. The conclusion part of the study will involve a recap of the issue of sociology and the sociological theories and the synergy between them.

Literature Review

Alexander (1982) portrays sociology as a very intricate area to comprehend as it has always being perceived by man. Sociology is perceived in the three major sociological theories. These theories postulate that the occurrences in the society can be summarized by the functionalism, conflict, and interactionism theories. Taking the case of the family institution, for instance, behaviors of the various family members and the phenomena in the family can be fully explained by the various sociological theories. According to the functionalism theory, the family is an anthology of interdependent parts which have a penchant toward a common goal. In the same institution there are functional necessities that must be met for it to survive (Alexander, 1982).

The occurrence of some peculiar phenomena is for the purpose of serving a required function in the family (Turner, 1988). In this theory, society is likened to a living organism because both are made up of interdependent parts and systems which function in harmony for the overall functioning of the larger body. Most literary materials concur that each member of the family is pivotal in the ultimate of the successful family union. There are a number of criticisms of functionalism theory presented by some materials. There are several materials which view this theory as indistinct and lacking in sufficient methods. Despite the fact that there are a number of there a couple of materials offering criticism, this theory stands steadfast in explaining the phenomena (Turner, 1988).

The conflict social theory contends that individuals and groups in a given society have various amounts of resources and that the more affluent social classes and individuals use their power to take advantage of groups with less power (Turner, 2006). This exploitation is largely through economics or by force. It is this disparity in the society which catalyses social disorder.

In the family scenario, the theory is portrayed in the ensuing conflicts within the family members and its serves to offer explanation that this conflict is as a consequence of social conflicts in the family institution. There are a couple of materials which portray the family institution as revolving around the conflict perspective of sociology. In fact the essence of formation of the family is more often than not a function of the couples’ rebellion from the larger parent family (Turner, 2006).

Interactionism is a sociological perspective in which human beings are surrounded by meaningful objects and symbols. These meaningful symbols include material things, events, fellow people, associations, and even plain symbols. These symbols are revered as superb and important in human communication.

They carry with them common social meaning that is naturally understood and adored by all members of a society (Alexander, 1982). The case of the family presents such a situation where the members of the families are driven by the symbols known and respected by all in that family. The fact that the family as a social institution is made in the interactionism perspective makes the unit stronger and unwavering. For instance the children look up at the prowess of the parents and this fortifies the bond between them.

Research Findings

In summary the study revealed the following: first it was found that the various human behavior and phenomena are fully explained through the three major sociological theories (Alexander, 1982). In the family institution, functionalism theory is quite rife. It is the same theory which provides the essence of the various family members to continue being in the institution. Every member of the family is supposed to play some very vital role in the attainment of the common good of the family (Turner, 1988).

The family life and phenomena is explained further by the social conflict theory. According to this theory the occurrences and events witnessed in the family are primarily caused by the struggles against conflicts in that family. This clearly defines the reserved feelings of each of the members of the family towards each other.

Then there is the al important interactionism theory which defines largely the in built feelings of each family member. It is regarded that the family members have grounds of commonality which they look up to. Each one of the family members is deemed to be conversant with these unwritten laws governing the family. They al work and behave in manners likely to suggest that they are aiming at the same goals (Turner, 2006).

Research Discussion

This study has done tremendous work to highlight on the intriguing issue of unraveling the cause for sociology. In the family institution, the theory of functionalism makes the family come up together in the first place (Alexander, 1982). At some age one feels that they need to have the responsibilities expected of him in the family by marrying.

Those who attempt to alter the norm of the duo in the institution by adopting the single parent euphoria at the end of the day find it quite difficult. This follows the coming up of children since the society expects that. The parents look at the children as very important now and in their future old age. The children depend on the parents largely for basic and other needs. This realization makes the two groups stay in harmony since they need each other (Alexander, 1982).

According to the social conflict theory, the family comes up in the first place owing to the need of the couple to move away from shared resources (Turner, 1988). They start their own home and live happily. This perspective explains the trend in divorce and such other attempts of reversing the union.

They are a consequence of the conflicts in the family. The conflicts between the children and parents define sour relations where the children in this case are said to be unruly and rebellious (Alexander, 1982). The society sees such groups as erroneous without knowing the epicenter of the situation. Interactionism explains a great deal the respect parents command from their children. These children perceive their parents as symbols of success and therefore form a liking for them.  This perspective also explains the parents’ initiatives of introducing the children to healthy social ethics and institutions like the church and school. It is from these places where the children will learn to be responsible by heeding those generally accepted symbols (Turner, 2006).


From the discussion in the study, the behaviors of members of the society are best explained by the sociological theories (Alexander, 1982). Therefore, it is in order to conclude the family institution is largely dependent on the perspectives of sociological theory. These theories clearly and sufficiently explain the occurrences and the behavior of the various members of the family. The failure of each member to participate in the expected duty is quite consequential in determining the satisfaction level derived from the institution (Turner, 1988).


Alexander J. (1982). Theoretical logic in sociology. Abingdon Oxford: Taylor & Francis.

Turner J. (1988). A theory of social interaction. Palo Alto, California: Stanford University Press.

Turner J. (2006). Handbook of Sociological Theory. New York: Springer.

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