Essay about Sociological Theory

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Sociological Theory To be able to evaluate Functionalism, Marxism and Interactionism we must first look at the strengths and weaknesses in each. There are many variations and interpretations of each of these theories, therefore for the sake of simplicity only the key ideals will be discussed. Functionalism looks at society as an organized structure of inter-related institutions; and the various ways these institutions interact together within a social structure. Examples of these 'institutions' are the family, work, education and religion. The Functionalist perspective is best understood using an organismic analogy: 'Societies are comparable to living organisms (for example, a human…show more content…
Although the above theory may sound true, there are a number of criticisms that challenge this theory. Emile Durkheim talks about societies having 'personalities' ('The Rules of Sociological Method', 1895) he also discusses societies having 'needs' and 'purposes' in a way a human does. This is of course not the case, as it is the individuals of these social groups that have the 'needs' and also serve a 'purpose'. The social group in which these individuals fall into are the products of individual action. Functionalism, also, cannot explain social change. Why should anything change if it is already functional in society? This approach of course does not allow for development, not only within the workplace, but also in all other areas. Humans have a natural instinct to improve and develop. This instinct will of course affect systems and processes, as we will always strive to improve all areas, whether it is education, family values or religious approaches. These 'improvements' will of course have a direct effect on the other institutions, causing social change; an area functionalists have a problem explaining. Functionalism also over emphasises the beneficial aspects of various institutions. It does not recognise that these institutions can and may be oppressive and exploitive. The workplace institution for example, at the time, was only really beneficial to the factory owners or the
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