Most sociologists interpret social life and place the theory into one of three major frameworks. A theory is a statement pertaining to how some parts of the world fit together and how they work. (Henslin, 2013) The three theories sociologists have created are based on observations made while examining social life during interactions at the macro level and micro level. These theories include: symbolic interactionism, functional analysis and conflict theory.
The main focus of symbolic interactionism is that symbols, those to which we formulate meaning, help us to understand how we view the world and communicate with one another. (Henslin, 2013) Symbolic interactionism observes face-to-face interaction on the microsociological level. When we look at objects and give them meaning, we know how to behave in the various relationships of our world. Symbolic interactionism is present everywhere in our daily lives. If we view a stop ...view middle of the document...
Socialists have used this theory to change and improve behaviors on the macro sociological level to help society function better as a whole. For example, my autistic nephew Ben is inconsolable whenever he hears the vacuum cleaner being used in his home. The event that occurs is the vacuum cleaner running, while the inappropriate behavior is the screaming. In order to change or avoid these “screaming fits,” it is important to use the vacuum when Ben is at school. Robert K. Merton (1910-2003) a sociologist and proponent of functionalism pointed out that an action that’s purpose is to help part of a system is called manifest function, while one that unintentionally hurts the system is latent dysfunction. (Henslin, 2013)
The final theory, is the conflict theory, a macro sociological level, which stresses that society is made up of groups that are with competing for each other for scarce resources. (Henslin, 2013) Karl Marx, the founder of conflict theory, analyzed patterns of history within society and determined that the elite group in power exploited workers who had less control. According to Karl Marx, “in all stratified societies there are two major social groups: a ruling class and a subject class. The ruling class derives its power from its ownership and control of the forces of production. The ruling class exploits and oppresses the subject class. As a result there is a basic conflict of interest between the two classes.” (Sociology Guide, 2015)
In studying the three theories of sociological framework, symbolic interactionism, functional analysis and conflict theory, one thing can be determined; each theory has a distinct interpretation of how society differs based on its own observations and guidelines. Each framework, therefore, helps us to understand society better, the norms that are created by expectations and to reflect upon acceptable behaviors within our culture.
Conflict Theories. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.sociologyguide.com/social-stratification/Conflict-Theories.php
Henslin, J. (2013). Essentials of Sociology: A Down to Earth Approach. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson.