Abstract: The following article will supply a brief description of what sociology is as well as three investigative levels of analytical process. This post will also address what the term sociological perspective and in addition, will present the three major theoretical perspectives as well as some examples to further explain their meanings.
Overview: The Sociological Perspective
Ever wonder why natives from one city or state attitudes, language patterns and other behavioral patterns are different from another place; or why certain behavior is appropriate in one place yet is frowned upon in another. These thoughts all relate to a study that examines certain factors such as peoples or a group of people’s origins, current lifestyles, development, as well as other direct and indirect factors that contribute to how they interact and behave, also known as sociology. (Sociology, 2009)
Sociology focuses in on how a group socializes and interacts with other people as well as how people are influenced by certain events and other unique environmental factors. (Schaefer, 2009, p. 5) Being that the study of how people behave and socialize with people is so broad sociology is divided up into three main investigative categories, macro, middle, and micro. The category Macro pertains to the study of people in groups on a larger-scale, such as Americans during the American Revolution. This level of sociological analytical process has to do with a large number of people acting together as a group, or creating a movement. The second level middle covers the study of organizations and social movements on a smaller scale, such as Feminist, Conservative, and Liberal Groups etc. Whereas Micro sociological investigations studies groups that are relatively smaller, where social interactions and roles taken are looked at more closely. (Phase 1: Socialization and Culture, 2009)
Below are three examples of the three levels relating to the Industrial Revolution:
Macro: New advancements in technology among other factors began the Industrial Revolution
Middle: During this time certain organizations and groups where formed to protect the rights of the workers
Micro: Due to people working long hours away from home, families spend less time together resulting in an increase in divorce, infidelity, as well as other domestic issues.
In order for people to properly be able to study this field they must take on a sociological perspective or coined by C. Wright Mills use their sociological imagination. Meaning to better understand an individual or group’s place in society, one would examine the past causes and effects that shape the world around them. (Schaefer, 2009, p. 5)
Like so many sciences and studies alike, scholars and scientist form different theories to support their hypothesis. Sociology is no different in this aspect, where three major theoretical perspectives mainly separate sociology, which is the structural-functional, symbolic-interactive, and conflict perspectives. The structural-functional perspective is accredited to Talcott Parsons, who was mainly influenced by the work of Emile Durkheim and Max Weber. Parsons believed that society in a whole could be considered as one living organism, where each group of people acts as a working part, the interactions among the different parts or structures are what make society functional. (Schaefer, 2009, p. 14) Herbert Mead, who believed society, should be looked at on more of a micro-sociological scale, developed Symbolic-interactive perspective.
Mead’s theory suggests that being the people are social beings and should be studied by their everyday interactions. This includes how an individual interacts and relates to others by non-verbal and material means. (Schaefer, p. 16) For example, a new girl in school is looking for a table to sit at for lunch, being that all the tables are occupied but has a couple seats available. She would most likely be drawn to a table where the students there are dressed more as she is. Lastly, the conflict perspective was founded by a collaboration of sociologist such as Karl Marx, W. E. B. Bois, and Ida-Wells Barnett. Each contributing something different to this theory, which is the belief that only through struggle and conflict, can society progress as a whole. (Schaefer, p. 15) A few examples of this are the American Revolution, French Revolution, Civil Rights Movement, and so forth. Both the conflict and structural-functional theories pertain to macro-sociology.
In conclusion, the realm of sociology is so vast, and can apply to so many different levels as far as individuals, groups, to whole populations, and at the same time analyzing human behavior, interactions, relationships, and so forth. It would be safe to say that this avenue of scientific study can and has brought a greater understanding of our past, current as well as shed some light of future events, both on a personal and global scale.
Schaefer, R. T. (2009). Understanding sociology. In M. Ryan (Ed.), Sociology: A brief introduction (Eighth ed., p. 5). New York, NY: Inc-The McGraw Hill Companies.
Schaefer, R. T. (2009). Understanding sociology. In M. Ryan (Ed.), Sociology: A brief introduction (Eighth ed., p. 15). New York, NY: Inc-The McGraw Hill Companies.
Schaefer, R. T. (2009). Understanding sociology. In M. Ryan (Ed.), Sociology: A brief introduction (Eighth ed., p. 16). New York, NY: Inc-The McGraw Hill Companies.
Schaefer, R. T. (2009). Understanding sociology. In M. Ryan (Ed.), Sociology: A brief introduction (Eighth ed., p. 14). New York, NY: Inc-The McGraw Hill Companies.
Phase 1: Socialization and Culture. (2009). Retrieved May 24, 2009, from Colorado Technical University Web site: http://https://campus.ctuonline.edu/Classroom/CoursePlayer/CoursePlayer.aspx?classid=209739&tid=55&un=1&HeaderText=Course Materials: SOC205-0902B-10 : Sociology
Sociology. (n.d.). Retrieved May 24, 2009, from Merriam-Webster Web site: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sociology