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Three Theoretical Frameworks

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Presentation on theme: "Three Theoretical Frameworks"— Presentation transcript:

1 Three Theoretical Frameworks
Structural Functionalism, Conflict Theory, & Symbolic Interaction

A MACRO level theory –Focuses on large scale structures and institutions Views a “society” as a “whole” consisting of interdependent and interrelated “parts.” The parts serve “functions” for the benefit of the whole. One could envision the “parts” of a society as the different social institutions, social classes, or social groups—or, we could even envision PEOPLE as the parts!

3 Structural functionalists are interested in how to maintain social ORDER and STABILITY.
Image of Society: A living ORGANISM, with each part of the organism fulfilling a vital function for the whole Image of Social change: Social changes proceeds in a gradual, linear, adaptive fashion—EVOLUTIONARY! Fundamental Elements: Society is based upon SHARED VALUES—when values begin to deteriorate, so does society!

AUGUST COMTE—The founder of sociology, and the first to propose the “organismic analogy”—the idea that we can conceive of society as a living organism, with all the same attributes present. HERBERT SPENCER—Built upon the organismic analogy, saying that as societies grew larger in size, the parts become more complex and specialized. Spencer drew on the work of Charles Darwin to speculate that societies evolve, just as do living organisms, and coined the term “survival of the fittest.” EMILE DURKHEIM—Functionalism comes full stride with Durkheim. He was interested in the concept of social solidarity and posited that in early societies, VALUES are a sort of social glue, holding the society together (mechanical solidarity), while industrialized societies were held together because of the interdependence created by the division of labor (mechanical solidarity).

What is the FUNCTION (or dysfunction) of the phenomena in question—that is, in what way does it contribute to the functioning of the whole? What values are evidenced or reflected in the phenomena in question? Does the social phenomena that we are analyzing add to the order and stability of the society?

6 II. CONFLICT THEORY A MACRO level theory, focusing on large scale institutions and structures (probably the only feature in common with functionalism) Views society as multiple groups competing for limited resources “Conflict” is not pathological, rather a natural part of every society. Conflict theorists do NOT view society as stable or orderly (“flip side” of functionalism?)

7 Conflict theorists are primarily interest in POWER and POWER RELATIONS---and they see this as a necessary element that was lacking in the functionalist perspective. Image of Society: A continual struggle between the “haves” (bourgeoisie) and the “have-nots” (proletariat). Image of Social Change: A DIALECTIC PROCESS that occurs through conflict. Conflict is needed for meaningful social change. REVOLUTIONARY! Fundamental Elements: The ECONOMY is the basis, or infrastructure of society. Who owns and controls the means of production has the power and controls society!

KARL MARX—His writings form the basis of conflict theory. He thought that true social change could happen only through revolutionary struggle. His primary focus was on the economy as the basis of every other social institution. Marx felt that capitalism was an unfair system ultimately doomed to failure. MAX WEBER—Was interested in the connection between the economic and religious institutions of a society. Weber was not as “negative” toward capitalism as Marx, and saw a connection between capitalism and Protestantism. W.E.B. DuBOIS—The first African American sociologist. Studied under Weber, but was later drawn toward Marx. Applied the ideas of Marx regarding class struggle to RACE. DuBOIS is famous for his concept of DOUBLE CONSCIOUSNESS.

Who has the POWER and how is it being used? Who BENEFITS at whose EXPENSE? What is the role of ECONOMICS?

A MICRO level theory, focusing on SMALL GROUP interaction and on the INDIVIDUAL IN SOCIETY Concerned with how we use SYMBOLS (language) to communicate, to put “meaning” on objects and events, and to create a shared SOCIAL REALITY.

11 Symbolic interactionists focus on the use of language not only to communicate, but to create a shared social reality. Symbolic interactionists also focus on the SOCIALIZATION PROCESS and the development of the SELF through social interaction. Image of Society: A continual PROCESS of creation and recreation as we go about our everyday lives engaging in social interaction. Image of Social Change: Change is CONTINUAL—whether it be evolutionary or revolutionary, human beings are active AGENTS who are ALWAYS in the process of social change. Fundmental Elements: SYMBOLS (language) is the basis of society. If we could not meaningfully interact, we could not have a society. LANGUAGE is the basis of the development of the self, AND the basis of society!

CHARLES HORTON COOLEY—Developed the concept of the “looking glass self”: 1) we imagine how we appear to others 2) we imagine others’ judgments, and 3) based on the above, we develop a self concept. We see ourselves through the “looking glass”—the eyes of others! GEORGE HERBERT MEAD—Said that the social self is composed of the “I”—the impulsive part of the self, and the “Me,” the part that is socially restrained. He also developed the three stage model of development of the social self: Preparatory Stage, Play Stage, and Game Stage. Interaction with others is critical to the development of the self.

What does the phenomena in question SYMBOLIZE ? What MEANINGS do persons put on objects and events? How are symbols used to COMMUNICATE? How is language used in creation of the self concept, and how does language (labeling, for example) affect the social self and self esteem? How is language used to create a shared social reality between participants that may be different from the reality experienced by others?

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