Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology

Social theories attract the connections in between seemingly disparate ideas in order to assist us understand the world approximately us.

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Key Takeaways

Key PointsTheories have actually two components: data, and also and the explanation that relationships in between concepts that room measured through the data.A theory is a proposed relationship between two or much more concepts, frequently cause and effect.Sociologists construct theories to describe social phenomena.Sociological theory is developed at many levels, varying from grand theory to extremely contextualized and certain micro-range theories.Key Termscause and also effect: Cause and also effect (also created as cause-effect or cause/effect) describes the philosophical concept of causality, in i beg your pardon an action or occasion will produce a details response to the activity in the form of an additional event.anomie: Alienation or social instability led to by erosion the standards and values.sociological theory: A theory is a statement as to how and why specific facts are related. In sociology, sociological perspectives, theories, or paradigms are complicated theoretical and also methodological frameworks, provided to analyze and also explain objects of society study, and facilitate arranging sociological knowledge.

Sociologists develop theories to define social phenomena. A concept is a suggest relationship between two or an ext concepts. In various other words, a concept is an explanation for why a phenomenon occurs.

Sociological theory is emerged at many levels, ranging from grand theory to extremely contextualized and specific micro-range theories. There are countless middle-range and also micro-range theory in sociology. Because such theories space dependent on context and details to specific situations, that is past the limit of this message to explore each that those theories.

Sociological theory at Work

An instance of a sociological theory originates from the work-related of Robert Putnam. Putman’s work focused on the decrease of public engagement. Putnam discovered that americans involvement in civic life (e.g., community organizations, clubs, voting, religious participation, etc. ) has decreased over the last 40 to 60 years. When a number of factors that contribute to this decline, among the prominent components is the increased usage of television as a type of entertainment. Putnam’s theory proposes:

The much more television human being watch, the reduced their involvement in public life will certainly be.

This element of Putnam’s theory plainly illustrates the simple purpose that sociological theory. Putnam’s concept proposes a relationship between two or an ext concepts. In this case, the concepts are civic engagement and also television watching. This is one inverse partnership – together one goes up, the other goes down; the is also an explanation of one phenomenon with another: component of the reason for the decline in public engagement end the critical several decades is since people space watching an ext television. In short, Putnam’s theory clearly encapsulates the an essential ideas the a sociological theory.

Importance the Theory

Theory is the connective organization that bridges the connection in between raw data and critical thought. In the concept above, the data proved that that public engagement has actually declined and TV watching has increased. Data alone space not particularly informative. If Putnam had not propose a relationship between the two elements of society life, we might not have realized that tv viewing does, in fact, alleviate people’s desire to, and time for participating in public life. In bespeak to understand the social world around us, the is vital to employ theory to draw the connections between seemingly disparate concepts.

Another example of sociological theorizing illustrates this point. In his now classic work, Suicide, Emile Durkheim to be interested in explaining a social phenomenon, suicide, and employed both data and also theory to market an explanation. By aggregating data for big groups of human being in Europe, Durkheim had the ability to discern trends in suicide rates and connect those patterns with one more concept (or variable), religious affiliation. Durkheim discovered that Protestants were an ext likely than Catholics come commit suicide. In ~ this point, Durkheim’s evaluation was still in the data stage; he had not proposed an explanation for the various suicide prices of the 2 groups. As soon as Durkheim presented the concepts of anomie and social solidarity, he started to explain the distinction in suicide rates. Durkheim said that the looser social ties discovered in protestant religions lead to weaker society cohesion and also reduced social solidarity. The higher suicide prices were the an outcome of weakening society bonds among Protestants.

While Durkheim’s result have since been criticized, his study is a classic example that the use of concept to describe the relationship between two concepts. Durkheim’s work also illustrates the prominence of theory: there is no theories to explain the relationship in between concepts, we would not be able to understand cause and effect relationship in social life. The discovery of the cause and effect connection is the major component that the sociological theory.

Theories: room Some much better than Others?

There are numerous theories in sociology, but there room several large theoretical perspectives that are significant in the field. This theories room prominent due to the fact that they room quite good at explaining social life. They are not without their problems, but these theories stay widely used and cited precisely since they have withstood a great deal that criticism.

You might be inclined to ask, “Which theories are the best? ” together is frequently the situation in sociology, just because things are various doesn’t typical one is far better than another. In fact, that is probably much more useful and also informative to view theories as complementary. One concept may define one facet of society much better than another. Or, both might be advantageous for explaining society life. In short, all of the theories space correct in the sense that they market compelling explanations because that social phenomena.


Ritzer’s Integrative Micro-Macro theory of society Analysis: The theoretical perspectives in sociology usage both micro- and macro-perspectives to know sociological and social phenomenon.

Key Takeaways

Key PointsIn the functionalist perspective, societies are believed to duty like organisms, with assorted social organizations working together like organs come maintain and reproduce societies.According to functionalist theories, institutions come about and persist because they beat a duty in society, cultivating stability and also integration.Functionalism has actually been criticized because that its fail to account for social change and separation, personal, instance agency; some think about it conservatively biased.Functionalism has been criticized because that attributing human-like demands to society.Emile Durkheim ‘s job-related is taken into consideration the structure of functionalist theory in sociology.Merton observed that institutions can have both manifest and latent functions.Key Termsfunctionalism: structural functionalism, or simply functionalism, is a structure for building theory the sees culture as a complex system whose parts work-related together to promote solidarity and also stability.manifest function: the facet of a habits that is conscious and also deliberatesocial institutions: In the social sciences, establishments are the structures and mechanisms of society order and cooperation administer the behavior of a set of individuals within a offered human collectivity. Institutions incorporate the family, religion, peer group, economic systems, legit systems, penal systems, language, and also the media.latent function: the aspect of a behavior that is not clearly stated, recognized, or intended, and also is in order to hidden


The functionalist perspective attempts to explain social establishments as collective means to meet individual and social needs. It is sometimes called structural-functionalism due to the fact that it often focuses on the methods social structures (e.g., social institutions) meet social needs.

Functionalism draws its impetus from the concepts of Emile Durkheim. Durkheim was concerned with the concern of exactly how societies maintain interior stability and also survive over time. That sought to describe social stability through the concept of solidarity, and differentiated between the mechanically solidarity of primitive societies and the essential solidarity of complex modern societies. Follow to Durkheim, much more primitive or timeless societies were held together by mechanically solidarity; members of society lived in relatively small and also undifferentiated groups, where they shared solid family ties and also performed similar daily tasks. Such societies were organized together by mutual values and common symbols. By contrast, he observed that, in modern-day societies, classic family bonds are weaker; modern-day societies additionally exhibit a complicated division of labor, whereby members perform really different everyday tasks. Durkheim said that contemporary industrial society would damage the timeless mechanical solidarity that organized primitive societies together. Modern societies however, do not autumn apart. Instead, contemporary societies count on necessary solidarity; since of the extensive department of labor, members of society are compelled to interact and exchange through one one more to provide the things they need.

The functionalist perspective proceeds to try and describe how societies kept the stability and also internal cohesion vital to certain their ongoing existence end time. In the functionalist perspective, cultures are assumed to function like organisms, with assorted social organizations working together choose organs to maintain and reproduce them. The miscellaneous parts of society are presume to occupational together naturally and also automatically to maintain as whole social equilibrium. Because social organizations are functionally incorporated to kind a secure system, a change in one institution will precipitate a readjust in other institutions. Dysfunctional institutions, which execute not contribute to the all at once maintenance the a society, will certainly cease to exist.

In the 1950s, Robert Merton elaborated the functionalist view by proposing a difference between manifest and latent functions. Manifest attributes are the intended attributes of an school or a phenomenon in a society system. Latent features are its unintended functions. Latent attributes may be undesirable, however unintended consequences, or manifestly dysfunctional organizations may have actually latent attributes that define their persistence. For example, crime seems complicated to describe from the functionalist perspective; it seems to pat little function in preserving social stability. Crime, however, may have actually the latent function of providing instances that show the boundaries of acceptable behavior and the function of these borders to keep social norms.

Social Institutions

Functionalists analyze social establishments in terms of the duty they play. In various other words, to recognize a ingredient of society, one need to ask, “What is the role of this institution? how does it add to social stability? ” Thus, one have the right to ask that education, “What is the function of education and learning for society? ” A finish answer would certainly be quite facility and require a detailed evaluation of the history of education, yet one apparent answer is that education and learning prepares individuals to get in the labor force and, therefore, maintains a work economy. By delineating the functions of elements of society, that the society structure, we can better understand society life.

Criticism that Functionalism

Functionalism has actually been criticized for downplaying the role of individual action, and for gift unable to account because that social change. In the functionalist perspective, society and its establishments are the primary units the analysis. People are far-reaching only in regards to their areas within social equipment (i.e., society status and position in fads of society relations). Part critics also take concern with functionalism’s tendency to attribute demands to society. They suggest out that, unlike human beings, culture does not have needs; society is only alive in the feeling that the is comprised of living individuals. By downplaying the function of individuals, functionalism is less likely to recognize just how individual action may change social institutions.

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Critics also argue the functionalism is unable to explain social readjust because it concentrates so intently on social order and equilibrium in society. Adhering to functionalist logic, if a social institution exists, it should serve a function. Institutions, however, readjust over time; part disappear and others come into being. The focus of functionalism on aspects of society life in relationship to their current function, and not their past functions, renders it daunting to use functionalism to describe why a role of some aspect of society might change, or exactly how such change occurs.