Social Structure Essay

888 words - 4 pages

Soc100-125Topic: Social StructureIn order for us to understand why sociological theories could be classified into 'consensus' and 'conflict' perspectives it may be best to first define these concepts. Consensus is a concept of society in which the absence of conflict is seen as the equilibrium state of society based on a general or widespread agreement among all members of a particular society. Conflict can be overt or covert, stemming from the range of possible differentiations.Conflict theory emphasizes those conflicts inherent to human society [Jary & Jary, 2000:105]. Its discourse is the emergence and causes of conflict within a particular human society. Some say that conflict theory deals with the incompatible aspects of human society.Emerging from the sociology of social order and social stability/social regulation, consensus theory is a sociological perspective in which social order and stability/social regulation form the base of emphasis. It is concerned with the maintenance or continuation of social order in society; in relation to the norms, values, rules and regulations that are widely or collectively accepted within a particular society.Both consensus and conflict sociological theories are reflected in the works of certain dominant social theorists. Classical social theorists such as Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber as well as other prominent social theorists such as Talcott Parsons & Robert Merton, Louis Althusser & Ralph Dahrendorf, Herbert Mead & Herbert Blumer. The conflict and consensus perspectives of sociological theories have been divided into four categories or four paradigms (frames of reference) in which human beings see the world. On the conflict perspective we have the Radical Humanism paradigm & the Radical Structuralism paradigm. On the consensus perspective we have Interpretive Sociology & (Structural) Functionalism/Systems Analysis. Each of the classical and modern social theorists (and their theories) above are slotted into one of the four categories or paradigms.There are two interpretations of Marx's theory of conflict, Radical Humanism & Radical Structuralism. Marx's first works were interpreted by some social theorists as emphasizing the role of human beings in social conflict. He explained change as emerging from the crisis between human beings and their society. Theorists argued that Marx's theory was characterised by class conflicts. What the Radical Humanists are stressing is the individual's capacity to think and act against situations that are not satisfactory to its existence. People desire radical change of the political, economic or social forces that oppress them and therefore struggle against those forces.From this Marxist perspective, change will only come about by means of class conflict. Social conflict will emerge and change will take place in consequence of the suppression and domination by a dominant class over another weaker class. For instance, the change...

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