A Critical Outline Of The Main Features Of Functionalism, Symbolic Interactionism And Marxism

1397 words - 6 pages

Sociology, the study of society; has been adapted by many sociologists so as to put across their own theories. The most important Sociologists of the early 19th century were Emile Durkeim, Karl Marx and Max Weber; a common factor with all these men is that they were all influenced by the world in which they lived.I intend to, throughout this essay, explain these three different theories, evaluate them and also critically outline their main features.The Functionalist sees society as built up and working like the human body, made up of interrelated parts, which function for or contribute to the maintenance of society as a whole. (Cited: Browne.K. 'Introducing Sociology', 2002). Functionalists are concerned with how the different parts of society contribute towards the whole. All members of society are imposed with common values and norms. Marxism sees the overall structure of society primarily determined or influenced by the economic system, the means of production, such as the land, factories and offices necessary to produce societies goods. (Cited; Browne.K 'Introducing Sociology' 2002) This approach rejects the idea of society as a consensus but instead sees it based on the constant changing outcomes of conflicts between different groups. This type of approach is known as 'conflict theory'. Symbolic Interactionism is a social action perspective, particularly concerned with understanding human behaviour in face-to-face situations. In addition, how individuals and situations come to be defined or classified in particular ways. This is known as labelling, it is also concerned with the consequences for individual behaviour of such definitions, since people will behave according to the way they see situations. (Cited: Browne.K 'Introducing Sociology'2002.)Functionalism emerged in the 19th Century in response to a Crisis in social order due to Industrialisation and the loss of communities and also the growth of conservative sociology (August Compt 1798-1857).Functionalists believe in the consensus theory. This sees society as having needs, which have to be met in order to survive, and also that if something serves no purpose at all, it would cease to exist, (Sociology in perspective for OCR pg36) and these are called functional requirements. Different parts of society must satisfy these needs. Social order has been examined via the study of whole societies not just the individuals. Functionalists see society as a system, a set of parts that work together to make a whole. French sociologist Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) famous for his study of suicide and analysis of crime used the human body in order to explain that as human organs work together to ensure good health, the various structures of society (Education, Family, Politics etc) work together to maintain social order (Organic Analogy).This theory believes in the smooth running and well-oiled system but conflict and disorder are inevitable, however, it is seen as a merely temporary disturbance...

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