Three Sociological Perspectives Essay
Three Sociological Perspectives
Generally, there are three sociological perspectives that sociologists use today to approach certain topics regarding the society. These theoretical perspectives are symbolic interactionist, functional analysis, and conflict. These theoretical perspectives hold different approaches in terms of viewing the society as a whole. These different theoretical perspectives can also provide different approaches for different people depending on how it suits them.
The symbolic interactionist perspective is a sociological perspective that generalizes everyday or fundamental forms of social interaction (Schaeffer and Lamm, 1998). The interactionist perspective, as the word suggests, focuses more on the small groups interact with each other. The interactionist perspective focuses more on small groups in order to understand society as a whole. So basically it sees society as a product of the interaction to these small groups. If I were to put this perspective into use, I can view myself as an individual who has certain responsibilities to fulfill in my family. In a larger picture, my family has responsibilities to perform in the society.
In the functional analysis perspective, the structure of the society is given more focus to achieve stability (Schaeffer and Lamm, 1998). It focuses on the functions and dysfunctions of institutions within the society. For example, I am a student, thus I have a specific function to fulfill within the group I belong in, my school. Namely, I have to study and participate in the institution wherein I belong.
According to American functionalist sociologist, Robert Merton, there are two types of human functions under the category of functional analysis perspective. There are the manifest functions and latent functions.
The manifest functions, as the word suggest, are functions pertaining to the obvious and explicit. Manifest functions can be easily identified by the merely use of common sense. Latent functions deals with the subtle and implicit. It is very hard to determine and pinpoint these latent functions as opposed to manifest functions that only require common sense. Latent functions require sociological approaches to be determined.
The conflict perspective argues that the structure of society is a product of conflicts, may it be past or ongoing. This perspective draws much from the works of Karl Marx on class conflict (Schaeffer and Lamm, 1998). If I am to use this perspective on my education, my education is a product of my past conflict which is the lower levels of education. It is also my ongoing conflict as I am still striving to graduate.
There are also levels of analysis that we can use to view topics in the society. There are the micro and macro levels of analysis. These sociological concepts are also known as macrosociology and microsociology. Basically, it is almost self-explanatory. Micro pertains to the “small picture” and macro is about the “big picture.” The micro level of analysis is much focused on the small societal patterns. It is more meticulous on the small details of the structure of society. On the other hand, the macro level of analysis is all about the larger societal patterns (CliffsNotes.com).
An example of analysis on the macro level is the three sociological perspectives that I have presented in this paper: symbolic interactionist, functional analysis, and conflict. All three theoretical perspectives are on the macro level of analysis since they all have a different view of the society as a whole.
However, it is argued by many critics that the symbolic interactionist perspective is on the micro level since it focuses more on the details rather than the whole of society.
CliffsNotes.com. 2008, January 4. Three Major Perspectives in Sociology. Retrieved January 4,
2008 from http://www.cliffsnotes.com/WileyCDA/CliffsReviewTopic/topicArticleId-26957,articleId-2687.html
Schaefer, R. T., & Lamm, R. P. (1998). Sociology. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies,