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8 Social Theoretical Perspectives February 25th, 2015

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1 8 Social Theoretical Perspectives February 25th, 2015
HHS4U 8 Social Theoretical Perspectives February 25th, 2015

2 Learning Goals & Success Criteria
What are the various theoretical perspectives and how can they be analyzed in the everyday social ‘family’ world, from a sociological perspective? Success Criteria Be able to name the theoretical perspectives and the various principles outlined in each theory Collaborate and discuss how these theories may impact family lives and how we can interpret family roles and behaviour from these perspectives

3 (1) Functionalism How society performs its functions effectively
It’s the oldest theory used by anthropologists Functionalists examine the status and roles of individuals within the family They make observations about role behaviour & determine the rates at which the behaviour occurs The most prevalent behaviours are the ‘norm’ Example: a functionalist would conclude that it’s the ‘norm’ for a husband to be employed because it’s the most prevalent behaviour Functionalists use ‘macro’ approach – the function of society is a consensus between its members

4 Functionalist Research Question
A potential research question that a functionalist would ask would be: What is the division of labour childcare tasks in dual-working families in preschool children? The methods they would use: Surveys Secondary Analysis

5 (2) Systems Theory Looks at how groups of individuals interact as a system (set of different parts that work together & influence one another in a relatively stable way over time) The family organization is not chaotic Feedback – members learn how to interact to maintain the stability of the system Subsystems: Family-unit subsystem sharing a household Interpersonal between individual (husband/wife; mother/son) Personal (interaction between individual as a self & as a member of the family) This theory is different from functional theory because unlike functionalism, which explains the actions of individuals in groups, systems theory explains the behaviour of individuals as inseparable from the group

6 Systems Theory Research Question
A systems theorist would ask: How does couple interaction change when a second child is born? Research methods: Interviews Observations

7 (3) Symbolic Interactionism
Looks at how individuals behave based on their perceptions of themselves and others People experience their social world, & then define and interpret their experiences to give them meaning (Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus – suggesting different genders give different meanings to actions & words) SI attempts to understand the point of view of the actor to explain the action Based on 3 concepts: 1. Individual has 2 parts [ME – objective qualities (female, tall, teacher), and the I – subjective awareness of self (good person, shy, happy etc.) 2. People must take ‘attitude’ of the other – to anticipate what the other person will do & decide how they should respond – basis for human interaction 3. People can only interact by using a common language (share symbols) SI examines the perception & interpretation in determining behaviour of people

8 Symbolic Interactionism Research Question
How do teenagers perceive text messages from their parents and how do these text messages influence the behaviour of the teenagers? Research methods: Participant observation Interviews

9 (4) Exchange Theory Examine how individuals make choices within their role by weighing the costs & benefits Benefits are rewarding – meet perceived need Costs would be providing physical or emotional support or sharing goods & services We act to maximize the benefits we receive and minimize the costs to ourselves Social roles are stable when the exchange is fair (benefits balance or = costs) Benefits & costs are perceptions (not facts)

10 Exchange Theory Research Question
What are the costs and benefits for a divorced woman returning to live with her parents? Research methods: Interviews Experiments

11 (5) Life-Course Approach
Also called Developmental Theory Looks at behaviour demonstrated by individuals or families at various stages in their lives Examines biological, psychological, social, & cultural factors that influence development Describes predictable changes in behaviour as people progress through various stages People face role challenges that force them to develop (developmental tasks) Researchers must be cautious to determine whether the differences are caused by age-stage of individuals or families

12 Life Course Continued It assumes that families, like individuals, have life courses with predictable stages, marked by ‘normative’ events like marriage, birth of a child, child leaving home etc. At each stage, the family faces specific developmental tasks that are prerequisites for moving on to the next stage It assumes that families at a similar stage of their life face similar tasks

13 Life Course Research Question
How do parents influence the timing of leaving home for emerging adults? Research Methods: Surveys Interviews

14 (6) Conflict Theory Interdisciplinary (sociological/political theories) Looks at how societies are held together by power – not by individuals/groups needs Conflict exists between groups in society because of inequalities in power (power – the ability to control the behaviour of another) Society is organized into groups to divide people according to their power & to encourage competition Assumes that groups compete with one another to meet their needs (needs of ALL will NOT be equally met) Macro theory that examines inequalities & is used for analyzing power & authority within the family - used to criticize (not explain) society

15 Conflict Theory Research Question
How do power and authority influence a couple’s decision-making about childcare? Research Methods: Observations Interviews

16 (7) Feminist Theories Examine the impact of sex & gender on behaviour – from specific view of women Roots in conflict theory, however it was developed to separate sex & gender from class Attempt to explain social inequalities between men & women from a variety of female perspectives Is based on the assumption that the status of women is a social inequality rooted in the sexual division of paid & unpaid labour Challenges both capitalism & patriarchal model of the family

17 Feminist Theory Research Question
How does gender and power influence what type of career path a woman or man may choose? Research methods Observations Interviews

18 (8) Ecological Perspective
Looks at how individuals & families as members of an interlocking system within society that influence each other Can be used to explain how economic uncertainty in a country may result in higher unemployment, or family conflict about educational choices for adolescents Combines aspects of Systems & Developmental Theories Microsystem – each individual is a system that develops behaviour to meet their needs Mesosystem – small groups (i.e. family), socialize individuals in ways that are influenced by society Exosystem – socio-economic environment (family, school, job etc.) sets expectations & influences the resources available to families & individuals Macrosystems – the socio-cultural environment, ideology & policies that limit behaviour It recognizes influences of others in relationships (like Systems theory), but extends to influence outside the family. Like conflict theory, it sees families as microsystems that are modeled on the organization of the broader society. Useful approach for studying the impact of social change & policies on individuals & families (not ideal for individual situations)

19 Ecological Research Question
How do educational funding, location of college programs, and family employment history influence the post-secondary choices of high school graduates? Research methods Surveys Secondary Analysis Interviews

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