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Sociological Theory.

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Introduction

Sociological Theory To be able to evaluate Functionalism, Marxism and Interactionism we must first look at the strengths and weaknesses in each. There are many variations and interpretations of each of these theories, therefore for the sake of simplicity only the key ideals will be discussed. Functionalism looks at society as an organised structure of inter-related institutions; and the various ways these institutions interact together within a social structure. Examples of these 'institutions' are the family, work, education and religion. The Functionalist perspective is best understood using an organismic analogy: 'Societies are comparable to living organisms (for example, a human being). Each part of the human body is linked, in some way, to all other parts. Individual organs combine to create something that is greater than the sum total of their individual parts.' In social terms, these 'organs' equate to the aforementioned institutions. Each of these institutions has its' separate role, and in order for society to to function effectively, these institutions must work in harmony with each other. It is also said that all parts of society have a purpose and also certain needs. The 'purpose' of the work institution, for example, is to create wealth and in order to achieve this it 'needs' people with a certain level of education. This example demonstrates the harmony required between two institutions in order to achieve a goal. Without education, the work institution would collapse due to lack of skilled workers, therefore having a diverse effect on society and all the institutions within that society. ...read more.

Middle

and the subject class (Proletariat). The ruling class form the economic base, by owning land, factories and raw materials. This of course meant that they had money, which in turn could influence the political, legal and educational systems to work in their favour. The subject class on the other hand, worked for the ruling class, lived on property owned by the ruling class and also purchased goods from the ruling class. Due to the influence of the ruling class the political, legal and educational exposure experienced by the subject class was strongly governed by the ruling class, therefore every aspect of the subject class life was governed in some way by the ruling class. This can be defined as the ruling class ideology. Marxism can be accused of being economically determinist. That is, there is over emphasis on the importance of money within all social relationships. This is of course may have been the case within political, educational and legal societies of the time, but what isn't discussed is the influence of economic importance within family relationships or friendships. It cannot explain the non-economic conflicts that may arise, for example the confrontation between two religious groups stems from religious beliefs and not economic issues. Admittedly, Marx was the first to recognise a class system within society, but he still failed to recognise the individual interaction within society. Marxists lend themselves to examining social relationships in terms of their conflictual basis. ...read more.

Conclusion

Social change is not adequately addressed, due to the focus on the individual or small groups. The three sociological theories all have their strengths and weaknesses. When considering each it is possible to see how all can be applied to today's society. Functionalism does address issues that apply today. If certain areas of society were to collapse today, there would certainly be devastating effects on other areas of society; this does confirm the idea of all social groups being a part of a whole. Although, it is unlikely that if one group were to collapse that it would bring the whole of society down with it, it would take a collective of social groups to cause major damage. Marxism had the focus on economic rule, and class. Whilst class still exists it is now possible to move up and down those classes. Economic rule, however does still play a prominent part in certain societies today, and will continue to do so for years to come. Interactionism looks at the individual and there influence and understanding of other social groups. This approach has allowed us to understand small social groups, which in turn allows us to gradually understand social groups in certain areas. However, none of the above theories will ever give us a true insight into how all societies work together. By taking parts of each and combining them to make a new theory is the only way that we may truly understand the social structure of the world around us. ...read more.

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