Fundamental Sociological Theories

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Sociologists investigate social phenomena, interactions, and patterns, and from this research they build a theory to explain why society functions in the manner that it does. One of the goals of sociological theory is to provide an explanation for social phenomena. A hypothesis is a testable assertion that can be derived from a theory in order to explain societal phenomena.


Theories have varying degrees of applicability depending on the complexity of the phenomena that they are attempting to explain.


On the other hand, micro-level theories focus on the highly particular relationships that exist between individuals or small groups of people, and macro-level theories examine broad-scale concerns and big populations of people.


The goal of grand theories is to explain large-scale relationships and provide answers to fundamental problems like why societies form and why they evolve. The sociological theory that is currently prevalent is in no way finished developing and should never be considered so. Even while traditional sociological theories are still held in high esteem and are relevant today, new sociological theories expand upon the foundation laid by their ancestors and build upon their findings.


The term “paradigm” refers to a group of sociological ideas that together offer a wide perspective that may be used to assist explain a variety of various aspects of social life.


Within a field of study, philosophical and theoretical frameworks known as paradigms are employed in the process of formulating hypotheses, generalisations, and the tests that are carried out to support them. Because of the helpful explanations that they offer, three distinct schools of thought have come to predominate in contemporary sociological discourse: structural functionalism, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism.


Structural Functionalism

In sociology and other social sciences, the term “structural functionalism” refers to a school of thought in which each of the institutions, relationships, roles, and norms that together constitute a society serve a purpose, and each is indispensable for the continued existence of the others and of society as a whole. This school of thought was developed by the American sociologist and social theorist Erving Goffman. According to the theory of structural functionalism, social change is understood to be an adaptive response to some tension that exists within the social system. When one component of an integrated social system undergoes change, a tension is formed between that component and other components of the system. This tension will be alleviated when the other components of the system undergo adaptive change.


Conflict theory

Karl Marx is credited with being the first person to develop the conflict theory, which postulates that competition for limited resources is what keeps society in a state of constant conflict.


According to conflict theory, social order is preserved not by consensus and compliance but rather through the dominance and authority of certain individuals. According to conflict theory, individuals with wealth and power want to hang on to it by whatever means possible, with the primary goal of doing so by oppressing others who are less fortunate and more helpless. The idea that individuals and groups within a society will collaborate in an effort to maximise their own wealth and power is one of the fundamental premises of conflict theory.


Symbolic interactionism

The Symbolic Interaction Theory, also known as the Symbolic Interaction Perspective, is a sociology theory that seeks to understand the relationship that humans have with their society by concentrating on the symbols that assist us in giving meaning to the events that occur in our lives. Symbolic interaction theory is also sometimes referred to as symbolic interaction perspective. The symbolic interaction theory is widely used by social scientists as a conceptual framework for the development of theories that view society as the end result of ordinary human interactions.


This theory examines social interactions and how individuals give meaning to the objects and events in their environment based on their interpretation of the ways in which they interact with other people. The symbolic interactionist viewpoint holds that individuals are able to make sense of the social realities in which they live through the processes of communication and social interaction, namely the transfer of meaning through the use of symbols and language.


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