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Social Conflict Theories And Functionalism Essay

1147 words - 5 pages

Social Conflict Theories and Functionalism

There are three main theories of sociology; functionalism, conflict theory and symbolic interactionism. This paper will focus on two of those theories, functionalism and conflict theory. The objective is to delineate the assumptions of two out of the three theoretical perspectives and apply these assumptions to an analysis of social stratification. How this will be accomplished will be by comparing and contrasting their assumptions and by analyzing the two theories affect on social stratification. Then I will state my opinion on which of the two better fits my personal sociological views. Functionalism is many people's way to view the world sociologically. It states clearly that the objectivity of the researcher is necessary and can be accomplished. There are three main points, which make up a functionalist theory on sociological expression. The first point is that culture is made up of interacting, interdependent parts. Each of these parts has a function in maintaining the society as a system on the whole. The second point states that shared values and expectations(or beliefs) among the members of the society help hold the society together. The third point states that these systems have a need for stability and a need to try to keep all the parts working together congruously in a sort of system. Social change in this system is uncommon, and when it does happen, it is a very gradual change. Conflict theory is centered on the tension, or struggle that goes on in everyday life. There are many different parts, which make up the conflict theorist's view on the sociological perspective. The first main part is that society promotes general differences in wealth, power, and prestige. Wealth, power, and prestige are qualities that all people desire. Some segments of society benefit from a social arrangement at the expense of less privileged groups. Whichever groups have the power is a central concern of this theory. These Marxist statements are the central arguments of all conflict theorist's statements of truth. The second part of the conflict theorists assumptions is that the different parts of the social system as a whole are intertwined, not because of a shared value system, however, but because of the fact that one group is inherently dominant over the other. This dominance happens because one group, the dominant group, controls the resources. The third part of the assumptions of the conflict theorist is that society does not necessarily have needs, but individuals and groups do. Because the dominant group has the access to wealth, power and prestige, they have the ability to have their needs defined as "system needs." The fourth part of the conflict theorist's assumptions is the basic question of "Who benefits?" from the social arrangements of the day. On any issue in society, there are people who benefit and people who don't benefit. This conflict always gives the advantage to the stronger party. The...

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