Sociological Perspectives to Understand Society Essay

2040 Words Jan 19th, 2011 9 Pages
The main aim of sociology is to seek an understanding or explanation as to how society functions or operates. There are numerous sociological theories, some dating back as early as the 19th century, these include Structural and Marxist Functionalism and Social Action theories. Throughout the years these perspectives have gradually been modernised due to the changes that have occurred in society. In this assignment I shall be looking at the key theories of the more notable exponents of the different sociological perspectives from pre-industrialisation times to the modern age and their interpretation of how society works.
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The social needs are adaption, goal attainment, integration and pattern maintenance, Parsons calls these social prerequisites. (Baert, Carreira da Silva 2010) Social equilibrium is the result of social institutions working effectively to meet these needs and produce social stability. Social institutions can also be studied in terms of the functions they perform for society. However Parsons is criticised as this represents bias, in that he assumes that if an institution exists, it serves a positive role. As the role of one institution changes, the role of another amplifies in order to maintain equilibrium, i.e. as the role of religion has declined, the role of education has increased to compensate.
Marxism was named after its founder Karl Marx who was a German born philosopher and sociologist (1813-1883). This theory has some similarities to functionalism as they both regard society as a system and human behaviour as a response to that system. However, Marx believed that conflict rather than consensus is the primary characteristic. The Marxist theory is about transformation. Marx saw that in such rich countries there are still many poor people, he sought to change the way things were. He wanted a just social order and therefore saw that once society understands their situation between classes they will want to change the way things are. He viewed class conflict between the rich and the poor as the

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