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Theory and Theoretical Paradigms: Ehhh? What’s a “paradigm” and why use that word??? Theory: statement of how 2+ facts are related We can USE theory to.

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Presentation on theme: "Theory and Theoretical Paradigms: Ehhh? What’s a “paradigm” and why use that word??? Theory: statement of how 2+ facts are related We can USE theory to."— Presentation transcript:

1 Theory and Theoretical Paradigms: Ehhh? What’s a “paradigm” and why use that word??? Theory: statement of how 2+ facts are related We can USE theory to understand how things remain “orderly,” why there is change, why there is inequality, etc.! We use both macro- (society as a whole) and micro-level (face-to-face interactions) theories

2 Let’s break down these words Macro Micro Functionalism Symbolic Interactionism Conflict Theory

3 Structural-Functional Paradigm: Macro level of analysis Like the human body or a machine, society is a joint effort of many institutions working together for the solidarity and stability of the whole (Herbert Spencer) Social structures (family, education, religion, government, work, medicine) have social “functions,” meaning they contribute to the operation of society as a whole

4 “Order” and “Change” in Functionalism: Order is maintained by group consensus, shared values, and rituals that promote social solidarity With slow change, institutions adapt to restore order Social problems may arise when rapid social change results in social disorganization or social dysfunction

5 Dramatic representation:

6 Functionalism’s Downfall? William Graham Sumner: Applying Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” to society, believed that we should not intervene to eliminate inequalities in society. Those “on top” deserved to be there, and it was dangerous to change the prevailing social order” Because of it’s focus on order and stability, what does this perspective ignore?

7 Conflict Paradigm: Macro-level of analysis Views society as in constant conflict and struggle over scarce social and economic resources resulting in inequality Asks “who benefits from this situation” Views society as divided between the “haves” and the “have nots” The “haves” construct society and social institutions to maintain their advantage

8 “Order” and “Change” in the Conflict Perspective Order is the result of power and coercion by those in charge Struggle and competition for economic and social resources creates change Social problems result from conflicting values, and largely from oppression on the basis of class, race, gender, sexuality, religion, age, ability, etc.

9 Dramatic Representation- Marx

10 Karl Marx (Conflict Perspective) Capitalism is the root of all conflict in society! It creates a class of owners (bourgeoisie) and workers (proletariat), resulting in the exploitation of the working class Class struggles create an “us versus them” mentality by dividing the world into the “haves” and the “have nots”! Religion is “the opium of the people” preventing a proletariat revolution

11 Max Weber (Conflict Perspective) Built on the ideas of Marx, saying that we must look at economics (wealth), power, and prestige (as well as culture) to understand social problems and inequality Additionally, he felt that ideas, values, and thought systems affected economic development –“Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” as an example

12 Dramatic Representation-Weber

13 Other types of Conflict: Feminist Theory: Fills the holes left by Marx to understand inequality between men and women Multicultural theory: Examine society in terms of racial and ethnic inequality

14 Symbolic Interactionist Perspective: Micro level interactions Individual behavior is based on the symbols and shared meanings we learn- in other words, on what we “believe” not just what is objectively true So…society is “socially constructed” through human interaction, and symbols change through these interactions We learn these symbols during interactions with other individuals and groups

15 “Order” for Symbolic Interactionists: Social interaction and shared beliefs (subjective) create order Change results from changing belief systems and ever-changing interactions

16 Why do we have inequality? Functionalism: It is functional! “Someone has to do those jobs…” Conflict Theory: It is the result of struggle over resources Symbolic Interaction: It results from the socially constructed meanings or symbols we create

17 Weaknesses? Functionalism: Hard time explaining change (since it it a dysfunction); is a conservative view that downplays inequality between groups (defends the status quo) Conflict: Overlooks cohesion and stability, and improvement in some social problems Interactionist: Reminds us that individuals create social structure, but too subjective in interpretation and is not a good explanation of inequality (ignoring the effect of larger social structures and culture)

18 How do you choose??? Theoretical approach may change somewhat depending on the type of question or problem you are studying Use more than one approach to achieve the best picture of the problem or issue


20 To test what we’ve learned Answer choices are functionalism, symbolic interactionism, or conflict theory): –Which sociological approach focuses on the inequality that exists between different groups? –Which sociological perspective would be most likely to state that our education system satisfies certain basic social needs crucial to the functioning of our society?

21 To test what we’ve learned: How could you use each of the three theoretical perspectives to explain the criminalization of drugs in society?

22 Conflict perspective on Deviance: The wealthy, big business, and select government leaders determine the law! The law: –Protects and keeps the powerful in power –Prevents rebellion using arrest and imprisonment –Keeps the focus of the criminal justice system off of the rich (WHITE COLLAR CRIME) and on the working class Occasional publicity of white collar crime (Martha!) gives the illusion of fairness in the criminal justice system

23 Symbolic Interactionist explanations of Deviance: Differential association vs. Labeling theory –Which is best for “Hooked: Illegal Drugs”?

24 Functionalism and Deviance: Durkheim: Deviance creates social order by clarifying moral boundaries and norms, promoting social unity, promoting social change (e.g., civil rights movement) To stop dysfunction from occurring? To provide jobs in what institutions?

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