Comparing Functionism, Marxism, and Social Action Theory Essay
1538 Words7 Pages
Sociology is generally made up of three paradigms: Functionalism, Conflict Theory and Symbolic interactionism.
A paradigm is a set of assumptions that shape and underlie explanations of why society is the way it is (Early Stratification Theory, internet 2003).
Functional Theory is often traced from Durkheim, Parsons and Merton.
Functionalists believe in shared norms and values, which are influenced by the Family, Education, church and employment. It sees society as a shaper of people rather than people shaping society. The functionalist says we need social order in which to survive normally.
Roles are also important to the functionalist for example the roles in marriage.
The…show more content…
Thus, we are socialised in terms of the culture we know. Merton once said "We do not exist for ourselves" on cooperation. In other words we are here for others we reproduce in order to make the world go round.
Social control is one aspect of functionalism; we are kept in line by the mechanisms of social control.
Functionalism views society as a living organism such as the human body, the functioning of the human body depends on the heart, brain, lungs and other vital organs if any of these parts fail it would affect the entire body (society).
Functionalists believe consensus plays a bigger part in society than conflict. We need guidelines; we need social consciousness for each other. We need rules and regulations or we would have anarchy namely, conflict, dispute, quarrelling and feuding. Which brings me to Marxism. Like functionalism Marx (1818-1883) sees society as a system, they both regard it as structural, the functionalist recognises the family and education and religion as the basis for the structure and Marxism sees society as a structure divided into two major parts, the economic base or infrastructure and the rest of society i.e. the political, legal and educational systems or superstructure.
Marx claimed that the infrastructure largely shapes the superstructure. As opposed to functionalism, Marxism believes conflict is the character of society and that
Assess the contribution of Social Action Theory to sociology Essay
935 WordsDec 10th, 20134 Pages
Assess the contribution of Social Action Theory to sociology:
Social Action Theorists, or Interactionists are also known as micro sociologists, this is because instead of looking at the bigger picture in society, and how the large structures and institutions such as the education and judiciary systems affect individuals, which is what Marxists and Functionalists (macro sociologists) look at, Social Action Theorists look at the opposite, how us, individuals, act by our own accord, and how we make up society. This is known as a ‘bottom up’ view of society. They see people as having a much more active role in society, as opposed to the passive puppets that Structuralists make us out to be. They reject the view that our behaviour is the…show more content…
The acquiring of this knowledge is what leads to us gaining our identity. Social action theorists suggest that there are three main parts to our identity. The first of these parts is the things that make us individual, such as name, signature and photograph. The second aspect is social identity, which is made up of the personality characteristics that are associated with our role in society. For example, I am seen as an older brother, which society may make me out to be annoying and protective of my younger sibling, but I am also seen as a student, who is perceived to be hard-working and well-behaved. The final part of our identity is the concept of ‘self’, or what we think of ourselves, and how we think we play our respective roles.
This concept of ‘self’ has been developed further by social action theorists, who believe that this can be further broken down into two components, the ‘I’ and the ‘me’. The ‘I’ is the private inner self, what we truly think of ourselves, whereas ‘me’ is the social self, and is the one that carries out the roles of brother and student.
Goffman referred to society as a play, and that we are all as individuals, actors in this play, or in the drama of everyday life. The expected ways of behaving, or social norms are the script, for example, greeting someone with ‘Good morning’ is expected. He suggests that the roles we carry out are simply a performance