Structural-Functionalism And Symbolic Interaction Theory And Sociology

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Sociology 1301
Courtney Baldwin
Sociological Theories: Compare and Contrast

The Structural-Functional theory definition:
“Functionalism addresses the society as a whole in terms of function of its constituent elements such as norms, customs, traditions, and institutions.”(Subedi) The structural-functional theory looks at society as many different parts and how they work together to form a stable society; it is a macro-level oriented theory. One important component of the structural-functional approach is the idea of social structure. Social structure is patterns of social behavior. Using these patterns, functionalist can see how they bring people together. Augustus Comte, Emile Durkheim, and Herbert Spencer were all sociologists who used the structural-functional approach.
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The Structural-Functional theory focuses on society in groups, such as families or businesses, and how they maintain stability within our society. Without the everyday interactions of individuals then there would be no institutions. In other words, the Structural-Functional theory, which looks at groups, would not be possible without the Symbolic Interaction theory, which looks at the individual interactions that form groups. Contrast the Structural-Functional theory to the Symbolic Interaction theory: The Structural-Functional theory and the Symbolic Interaction theory are different because of the way they view society. The Structural-Functional theory views society on the macro-level, while the Symbolic Interaction theory views society on a micro-level. This is the main difference between the two because the Structural-Functional theory focuses on groups and how they affect society as a whole while the Symbolic Interaction theory looks at individuals and how their interactions with others shape their personal reality. Compare the Social Conflict theory to the to the Symbolic Interaction

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