Project #39221 - Sociology Discussion

Hi I need a short half to one page regarding this topic:


Using 2 of the 4 main sociological theories (order/functionalism, conflict, feminist, symbolic interactionism), briefly analyze the social positions of, and/or one experience of ONLY 2 of the following: students, workers, parents, and children.  (Worth 45 points)

For example--explain/analyze functions, norms and values from order/functionalism, inequalities from conflict and feminist views, meanings and symbols from symbolic interactionist view.  (See text chapter 1, pp 22-31 and lecture 2 in Unit 1).

Please do not use theory definitions in responses--analyze, explain how/why with theories!


This is the text: search the blue texts on the internet.

What is a Sociological Theory? 

It is a systematic explanation of how and why social facts are related.

The important words here are: systematic (not arbitrary), how and why (the explanation/analysis), and social facts (not personal or psychological).

Theories are like sunglasses. They are lenses we use to observe and explain the social world. Like a good pair of sunglasses a theory helps to clarify what we are seeing/looking at. It shows us how and why the social world operates as it does.  However, since each theory has a specific focus, it does not explain everything. What the theory leaves out is its weakness, like sunglasses that do not reduce the glare of the sunshine. To use the sociological theories well, we must be able to evaluate their relative strengths and weaknesses. To do this, we must develop a good understanding of each theory.

Why use Sociological theory?

We use theory minimize personal bias.

We use theory to enable other sociological researchers to understand/determine how analyses were conducted and research conclusions were reached.

The Four Main Sociological Theories/Paradigms:

1.  Functionalism (referred to from here on as: Order Theory)     (Founders: Comte, Durkheim, Weber)

This theory sees society as a system of interrelated parts (social structures--family, education, economy, etc.), which hold society together. Social Institutions/Structures (family, education, as examples) have functions (meet certain needs of groups in society).


Manifest- open, intended

Latent- hidden, unintended

Dysfunctions- problems with operations of social structures

Central question of functionalism/order theory:  How is society held together?

Answer:  Through shared values, which are reinforced by social institutions

Focuses on:  Stability, conformity, consensus

Here is a link to an online article Functionalism.  Click the link to read this article which briefly explains functional analysis.

2.  Conflict Theory  
(Founder: Marx):

This theory sees society as an arena of struggle between unequal groups for power and resources. Social structures/institutions are set up by the powerful (ruling class) to serve their interests, and to protect and expand their power. The ruling class uses fraud (propaganda), force (the threat or actual use of violence), and co-optation (“buying off” other classes to maintain and expand their power). Systems of inequality have both a material base (control over resources) and an ideological base (a dominant ideology/worldview).

Please Note:  Conflict theory (a sociological theory) is NOT Marxism (a political ideology).

Central question:  How is society divided and unequal?

Answer:  Through systems of inequality and domination such as class, race, ethnicity, age, etc.

Focuses on:  Power, domination, inequality, and resistance to them by less powerful groups.

Here is a link to an online article on Conflict Theory.  Click on this link to read this brief article about Marxism and its influence on conflict theory in Sociology.

3.  Interactionist Theory  (Founders- Weber, Mead, Cooley, Thomas)

This theory views society as the aggregate accumulation of all small group interactions that take place in it. This theory focuses on the symbols and meanings attached to them that people use in small group interactions.

Central question:  How do those living in it experience society?

Answer:  Through social interactions and communication based on symbols and shared meanings.

Focuses on:  Small group interactions and the shared meanings of symbols used in communication.

Here ia a link to an online article about  Interactionist theory and its branch theories (Also called Symbolic Interactionism).  Click here to read this brief article on Symbolic Interactionism.

4.  Feminist Theories

These theories view society as an arena of struggle between unequal groups (gender and sexuality) of women and men for resources and power.

Central question:  How is society divided and unequal by gender (and more recently, sexuality)?

Answer:  Through men’s (and heterosexuals’) control over social institutions and resources.

Focuses on:    Gender discrimination, sexism, homophobia, and resistance to these.

Here is a link to a brief online general description of feminist theories.  Click here to read about Feminism.


Theories: Strengths and Weaknesses

The strength of any sociological theory is how well it explains that social phenomenon that is observed.

The weakness of any sociological theory is what it fails to explain or ignores about the social phenomenon that is observed. 

Macro theories (functionalism/order, conflict, feminist)

Macro theories explain the “big” picture (large groups, institutions, societies but they miss the “small” picture--small groups and individuals).

Micro theories (interactionist, feminist)

Micro theories explain the “small” picture but miss the “big” picture (large groups, institutions, entire societies).

Other Ways of Knowing/Understanding the Social World

Personal experience                                                                     
Common sense


All of these are valid ways of knowing within their own limits, but none are empirical, systematic ways of investigating the social world.

Subject General
Due By (Pacific Time) 09/05/2014 08:00 pm
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