• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Evaluate the usefulness of structural theories and social action theories when studying society

Extracts from this document...


Evaluate the usefulness of structural theories and social action theories when studying society Structural theories see human behaviour as constrained, and even determined by the social organism of society for example, the social structure that is made up of interrelated institutions such as families, schools, religion, the economy, political system, etc. These theories see society that already exists and when we die society continues on regardless. We cannot see or touch society but we feel its influence on a daily basis because it shapes what we think, feel and do. Structural theories, therefore, argue that we are pushed into courses of action by social structures over which we normally have little or no control. In this sense, then, these theories suggest that people are the product or puppets of society. ...read more.


However, functionalisms have been criticized for overemphasising consensus in society. They tend to focus on the functions or benefits of social institutions and consequently neglect the dysfunctions or harm that institutions can cause for individuals. For example, the family is always seen as a harmonious institution by functionalists and social problems such as domestic violence are not acknowledged. Whereas Marxists do acknowledge these kinds of things as Marxism is a conflict theory. Marxists believe that every single society always have examples of conflict. For example, in the family, normally husband and wife for example could argue about household expenditure. In education, there could be a debate on whether a parent should send their child to a state or private school. ...read more.


New Right perspectives believe that traditional roles within society have been undermined by the permissive values of the 1960s and 1970s. However, this is the opposite of radical feminists want as they want change to happen now and happen quickly. New rights argue that the nuclear family is the bedrock of society, like functionalism does, and that the welfare state creates a dependency culture. Social action theories however take a micro approach to explaining and understanding society. Social action theories look at meanings, interactions etc. It stresses the ability of individuals to exert control over their own actions. The individual is not seen as a passive recipient of society's directions but as an active creator of social behaviour. In this sense, society does not have an independent existence or objective reality. ?? ?? ?? ?? Lauren Harmon ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Sociological Differentiation & Stratification section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Sociological Differentiation & Stratification essays

  1. Sociological Theories

    Marxism is a structural theory and it is a conflict theory. Marxism is a theory of society and of political ideology. Marxists such as Karl Marx believe that the system we live in divides people into two classes: the bosses and the workers.

  2. Analyse and Evaluate the relationships between religion and social change.

    function, and that essentially is to offer support for the existing status quo. Politics and its associated rituals - for example, flag waving, parades - are the new forms by which collective feeling are symbolically expressed. Consequently religion, in one form or another, is a necessary and essential feature of society.

  1. Assess the usefulness of structural approaches to our understanding of society.

    Functionalism recognises the structural nature of society. It demonstrates the links between major social institutions, for example education, religion and the economy. Marxism is a similar structural theory as it studies society as a whole. Although, Marxists are critical of capitalist societies which they see as a society of two parts; the first component is the economic base (infrastructure).

  2. Assess the usefulness of interactionist approaches to the study of society

    in schools we have the role of a student and are expected to behave in a certain way. We don?t always behave the way we are expected to behave; therefore our behaviour isn?t always predictable. Symbolic interactionism provides the theoretical basis of labelling theory.

  1. Assess the usefulness of feminist contributions to our understanding of society today

    exercised through personal relationships, often through sexual or physical violence or the threat of it.

  2. Critically compare cultural and structural theories of the social patterning of health and illness.

    As it maintains the social order, contributes to economy, adapting towards industrial society that supported in socialization. Health and illness during the Functionalism approach from a medical, perspective sociology, created consensus structuring, the human behaviour which evolved ?sick note? that has link the theory to dysfunctional illness behaviour.

  1. Assess the usefulness of an Interactionists perspective on education.

    It was found that their social class influenced the councillors decision and they believed that the higher the social class the greater the educational potential.

  2. Education and the theories of Marxism

    Both school and work are hierarchies with head teachers or bosses at the top making decisions and giving orders. They refer to this as the ?correspondence principle?. This is where the relationships and structure found in education mirror those in work.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work