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Sociological Theories

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Sociological Theory - An Introduction. Sociological Theories. Functionalism was founded by Emile Durkheim. Functionalism is a theory of society, it is a structural theory and it is a consensus theory. The functionalist perspective was one of the first to develop a theoretical explanation of how societies work. It has produced a structural approach to the study of society where consensus is seen as essential, as without it society would collapse into chaos. It looks at how social order is created. It believes that value consensus results in social solidarity and this value consensus is created through socialization. Functionalism also looks at society as a whole and works on the idea that society determines the individual. Functionalists believe that in modern society individuals are integrated into groups. The individual is born into a family where they have their basic needs met, some individuals will be born into a religious family and will therefore become apart of a group who have shared interests, this integration continues throughout an individuals life. It is believed that groups in society regulate the behaviour of the individual through formal and informal sanctions. In the workplace if a person is not performing to a satisfactory level they may be warned or fired but if they are doing a really good job they may get a promotion or be praised verbally. ...read more.


This is how the ruling class manages to remain in the position they are in, the workers rely on the wage in order to provide for their families. This relationship is unbalanced and often deemed unfair as the ruling class will aim to get the maximum amount of work from the workers whilst paying them as little as possible. One problem that the workers face is that they cannot see the way they are being treated as lasting and tell themselves that one day things will get better; this is known as false consciousness. Marx predicted that as class polarization increased the workers would cause a revolution and would replace capitalism with communism. The Marxist view on religion is not as in depth as the functionalist view on this area. Karl Marx believed that peoples practicing and beliefs of religion reflects' their alienation. He believed that religion lead people in a false direction and the hopes and solutions were deceptive the Marxist also see religion as a form of social control i.e. Heaven and Hell, if people do as they are expected to by that religion they will go to Heaven, if they do not to as they are told they may go to Hell. ...read more.


If a person becomes a major long term victim their self-concept can be damaged and these individuals are more likely to accept labels. A group with a shared experience of negative labeling may form a culture of resistance i.e. a group of 'naughty boys' in school may form an anti-school subculture. The Interactionist view of religion is that it is a major source of identity. Religion is very powerful with labeling and labels everybody, for example - sinner, saint, repentant sinner etc. Many religions have similar ethics, hard work is a very common interest within' each religion and the belief that with sacrifice and hard work comes great reward. The religious working class would work really hard and be exploited through low wages meaning that the capitalists benefited from the workers having these beliefs, they were able to save on costs and invest thus creating a rise in capitalism. The key similarities between Functionalism, Marxism and Interactionism is that they all wish to view the mechanics of how a society works, one of the key differences is the way they view society. Functionalism and Marxism have been deemed as being very deterministic whereas Interactionism is recognized as be anti-deterministic. Each of the theories mentioned in this essay contribute greatly to our understanding of how society works and in most cases why people act the way they do. ...read more.

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