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

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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.

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