Functionalism, Conflict Theory And Symbolic Interactionism

1288 Words 6 Pages
Society can be characterized as a complex system; a system that can only be understood through the four major theories of society: Functionalism, Conflict Theory, Symbolic Interactionism, and Cultural theory. Two of the major theories that will be discussed are Conflict theory and Symbolic Interactionism. Conflict theory focuses on the different social groups of society and how those groups are in conflict with each other based on the differences in power. Symbolic interactionism, however, focuses on the interaction between people in society through meaningful symbols. Although there are differences in both theories, being that the focal point of conflict theory is power and conflict, and the focal point of symbolic interactionism is the interpretation …show more content…
In his chapter called,”Society as Symbolic Interaction,” Herbert Blumer, a sociologist, stated, "Thus, human interaction is mediated by the use of symbols, by interpretation, or by ascertaining the meaning of one another 's action" (Blumer 1969). Symbolic interactionism suggests that human behavior is the process of stimulus- interpretation- response. Humans do not just simply respond to stimuli, but instead, they interpret it, give it meaning, and then respond. In addition, there are three different levels of society: the macro level, meso-level, and micro-level. Symbolic interactionism has a focus on the micro-level. The micro-level is considered to be, “a small scale encompassing interactions and individuals in society, it looks at the small interactions between individuals” (Hutson 2015c). What makes interaction easier is the concept known as social construction. Social construction is, “the idea that society as a whole give meaning to things, objects, behaviors- everything- in our social world” (Hutson 2015c). Based on the idea of social construction, symbolic interactionism indicates that humans interact with each other through those meanings. Another concept of symbolic interactionism is the self and identity. As stated by G.H. Mead, a sociologist, an …show more content…
A current event being that police brutality against African Americans has been an issue in today’s society. There have been myriads of incidents of the police force brutalizing African Americans. A specific incident that recently occurred was when an eighteen year old African American male, named Michael Brown, was shot by a Caucasian police officer. After this incident, the African American community developed a statement and gesture called, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.” Many incidents have followed after this particular incident causing the African American community to rise up and fight against police brutality. A conflict theorist can explain this current event by stating that the police force have ultimate power, whereas the African American community does not. Basically, the police force and the African American community are in conflict with another because the police force abuse their power, and continue to abuse and retain that power. Now, a symbolic interactionist can explain this current event by stating that the statement and gesture, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” is symbolic and has a meaning. Before responding to Michael Brown’s death, the African American community interpreted his death as something that will continue to happen to their people in their community, then they developed, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” giving it meaning, and responded by using the statement and gesture as a way

Related Documents