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

The differences and similarities between functionism, marxism, and social action theory.

Extracts from this document...


THE DIFFERENCES & SIMALARITIES BETWEEN FUNCTIONISM, MARXISM AND SOCIAL ACTION THEORY Sociology is generally made up of three paradigms: Functionalism, Conflict Theory and Symbolic interactionism. A paradigm is a set of assumptions that shape and underlie explanations of why society is the way it is (Early Stratification Theory, internet 2003). Functional Theory is often traced from Durkheim, Parsons and Merton. Functionalists believe in shared norms and values, which are influenced by the Family, Education, church and employment. It sees society as a shaper of people rather than people shaping society. The functionalist says we need social order in which to survive normally. Roles are also important to the functionalist for example the roles in marriage. The functionalist believe we as humans look at the roles played around us, for example, our parents and then we copy them. We think the pattern of life that we see is a natural one. We learn roles from our family thus the son is expected to take the role/job of his father as is the daughter expected to cook and clean akin to her mother. The role of the family is to socialise its new members and teaches them the norms and values essential to the social life, working together to make society work as a whole. The church's role according to the functionalist, plays a major role in holding society together by endowing it's agreed values and beliefs with sacredness and, through rituals, eter Worsley 1970 pg 475) ...read more.


Marx once said "The philosophers have already perceived the world in various ways; the point is to change it" from `The eleventh thesis on feuerbach`. Marx considered human action to be an important feature of social structure and social change, this was more likely in groups rather than individual action, with classes, trade unions, workplace, organizations, political parties and lobby groups providing the setting within which human action took place. (Webber. Sociology 250. Internet). Marxism influence was strong in the working class. Class is understood within Marxism as what we might call a `social process`, as a holist Marx is able to claim that all social processes and institutions are supra individual to the extent that they determine individuals lives rather than vice-versa. (Sociology online 2003) For Marx, classes are social structures. Marxism sees class as an essential element of all societies as an essential aspect of the individuals' life. Class structure has changed only minutely in the last one hundred years! Marx identified the two classes as the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat. The bourgeoisie, also known as the owners are those who own the means of production and the Proletariat also known as the workers, are those who work with the means of production. Marx sees the ruling class as the most dominant as they own the factories in which the working class are employed, thus the capitalist gets the work done and receives all the profits and therefore pay the workforce a wage. ...read more.


The interactionalist believes we should be able to use rational thought in order to work out our own concepts and solutions. CONCLUSION In my opinion all three sociological perspectives have their advantages and disadvantages. I think as a functionalist when it comes to the shared norms and values. I agree that we learn from what is shown to us in the manner that they are carried out thus imitating our elders. We look at the way our parents have been brought up and compare it with the way we have been brought up thus enabling us to bring our own children up accordingly. I believe we as a society should have respect for each other and conform to the rules laid down for us. I also agree with Marx's concept that we are labouring/creating beings, as we need to gain our fundamental needs i.e. food clothing and shelter without these all other human relations would fail. We need to be socialized (a process that teaches roles and develops a self image). The economy shapes our culture and personality and teaches us to look out for number one and to work hard etc. (Early Stratification Theory internet 2003). Freewill and rationalization I think is also very important to me, although I understand we need the basis of structures and economics but we also need to be able to make up our own minds and direct our own actions. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology 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 GCSE Sociology essays

  1. The Fundamental Differences Between Functionalism, Marxism and Social Action Theory.

    (Giddens 4th Edition, 2001, page 689). Functionalism is based on a systems theory. The ideas behind the perspective are that our behaviour is governed and constrained by social forces. In other words, we are what we are because of the social groups that we belong to.

  2. Discuss the key concepts within, and state the similarities and differences between, the following ...

    Functionalists continue by stressing the importance of compatibility between the institutions, arguing that they are inter-related and inter-connected in their maintenance of society, much like the human body and its various organs. [Haralambos & Holborn 6th ed.] If an organ such as the heart were to fail, the whole system would fail and the organism would die.

  1. social action v social structure

    Evaluation It could be argued that people in power force less powerful people to make certain decisions or behave in a certain way. We have laws and sanctions such as prison, community service etc if we break laws. Some companies have policies for staff to wear a uniform this is

  2. What are the major dimensions of social stratification?

    component of all societies and therefore, stratification would result from the rankings of individuals in terms of common values. He stated that in industrialized societies where there is a high division of labour, some will specialize in planning and organizing while others will be instructed.

  1. Gender as a form of Social Stratification.

    is more likely to have influenced male / female social development than the primary socialisation process within the family. Many of us have been brought up to believe that there are certain jobs for men and certain jobs for women.

  2. This essay will explain the functionalist, Marxist and Social action theories of race and ...

    The derogatory stereotypical perception of West Indians is subsequently increased, bringing more discrimination and more isolation for the West Indian community. (Haralambos, 2000, page 230) For Pryce, the in-betweeners are typically age between 18 - 35, are or aspire to be living the conventional British existence (placing importance on material success), maintain secure employment and are relatively well educated.

  1. A-Level Sociology Theory + Methods Revision.

    * Gives access to data of a sensitive nature, which can't be collected by "Quantitative Means". Disadvantages - * Hard to analyse quantitative data + present it in numerical graph form * The interviewer can easily lead the respondent. * Expensive * Time consuming * Interviewer Bias * Sample size

  2. Main features of Functionalism.

    To ignore society, to treat it as a fiction is to ignore its effects on those who we study. 4) Interactionists see people as purely cognitive beings as if we understand people when we understand what they think they know about the world.

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