How is getting dressed in the morning a social activity?
Three Theoretical Paradigms Structural Functionalism – Society is viewed as composed of various parts, each with a function that, when fulfilled, contributes to society’s equilibrium Conflict Theory – Society is viewed as composed of groups that are competing for resources Symbolic Interactionism – Society is viewed as composed of symbols that people use to establish meaning, develop their views of the world, and communicate with one another
“Parsonian Functionalism” Major theoretical perspective in mid-20 th century – Attempts to explain how societies maintain stability and order Focuses on roles of social institutions, and how they maintain social stability People have internalized rules and norms, that’s why we see orderly behavior If behaviors exist, they are there because they serve a function maintaining order
When a scientist looks through a “top-down” lens, she sees: Objective, pre-existing social forces (such as norms) Cause/produce An orderly society
Any sociological theory used to explain social phenomena is a top-down approach to sociology.
Harold Garfinkel had some problems with top-down approaches.
Garfinkel Said: Functionalism assumes that only people with the correct theoretical lenses can make sense of society Ordinary people do see the world as orderly; as a sensical place Functionalists like Parsons were ignoring all the work that ordinary people do every day to make sense of the world
Garfinkel Said: Everyone has procedures they use to make sense of the world, and PEOPLE ACHIEVE THE ORDER OF THE SOCIAL WORLD!
Gender In a top-down approach, a sociologist might ask: “Why don’t males cry as often as females?” Gender roles (males are taught not to show emotions) Affect Behavior (males don’t cry as often as females)
Gender In a bottom-up approach, an ethnomethodologist might ask: How is the reality of gendered behavior produced? The reality of “gendered behavior” Produce/achieve People’s sense-making activities/procedures (what we do)