Sociology Interpretivism versus structuralism

1780 Words Feb 19th, 2015 8 Pages
Sociology Holiday Homework
3. Asses the view that interpretive theories are more relevant than structural theories for understanding modern societies
Interpretivist sociologists may be more relevant for understanding the workings of modern societies, which propagate individualism and freedom of choice more than societies before. Other schools of thought, namely structuralism, disagree and challenge this view by stating that their own theories are still significant and criticising interpretivism.
The interpretivist theory takes a contrasting stance to structuralists on looking at society. Interpretive or social action perspectives examine smaller groups within society and unlike structuralism, are concerned with the subjective states of
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Max Weber, the founding father of interpretivism, believed that it was social actions that should be the focus of study in sociology. To Weber, a ‘social action’ was an action carried out by an individual to which an individual attached a meaning. He described four different types of social action; traditional action, which is done habitually and requires almost no conscious thought, affectual action, an action based off emotion, value rational action, an action of working towards a desirable goal with the certainty that it will be achieved and an instrumentally rational action, to do things in the most efficient way of achieving a goal. This break down of social actions help show the interaction between the individual and society’s structure, an idea Weber supported; for example the traditional action of reading is brought about by the institution of education. Though some branches of interpretivism (ethnomethodology and phenomenology) reject the idea of social structures even existing, Weber successfully integrates the individual and society, thus exhibiting the accuracy of the view in question.
On the other hand, structuralist paradigms may still be considered of more relevance in today’s society than Interpretivists.
Sociologist Schutz argued that interpretivism fails to explore the shared nature and meaning of society; it ignored the idea of the collective conscience and didn’t acknowledge that in society there exist shared norms and values. It focuses
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