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Theory and Theoretical Paradigms: Ehhh?. What’s a “paradigm” and why use that word??? Theory: statement of how 2+ facts are related We can USE theory to understand how things remain “orderly,” why there is change, why there is inequality, etc.!

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theory and theoretical paradigms ehhh
Theory and Theoretical Paradigms: Ehhh?
  • What’s a “paradigm” and why use that word???
  • Theory: statement of how 2+ facts are related
  • We can USE theory to understand how things remain “orderly,” why there is change, why there is inequality, etc.!
  • We use both macro- (society as a whole) and micro-level (face-to-face interactions) theories
let s break down these words
Let’s break down these words
  • Macro
  • Micro
  • Functionalism
  • Symbolic Interactionism
  • Conflict Theory
structural functional paradigm
Structural-Functional Paradigm:
  • Macro level of analysis
  • Like the human body or a machine, society is a joint effort of many institutions working together for the solidarity and stability of the whole (Herbert Spencer)
  • Social structures (family, education, religion, government, work, medicine) have social “functions,” meaning they contribute to the operation of society as a whole
order and change in functionalism
“Order” and “Change” in Functionalism:
  • Order is maintained by group consensus, shared values, and rituals that promote social solidarity
  • With slow change, institutions adapt to restore order
  • Social problems may arise when rapid social change results in social disorganization or social dysfunction
functionalism s downfall
Functionalism’s Downfall?
  • William Graham Sumner: Applying Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” to society, believed that we should not intervene to eliminate inequalities in society. Those “on top” deserved to be there, and it was dangerous to change the prevailing social order”
  • Because of it’s focus on order and stability, what does this perspective ignore?
conflict paradigm
Conflict Paradigm:
  • Macro-level of analysis
  • Views society as in constant conflict and struggle over scarce social and economic resources resulting in inequality
  • Asks “who benefits from this situation”
  • Views society as divided between the “haves” and the “have nots”
  • The “haves” construct society and social institutions to maintain their advantage
order and change in the conflict perspective
“Order” and “Change” in the Conflict Perspective
  • Order is the result of power and coercion by those in charge
  • Struggle and competition for economic and social resources creates change
  • Social problems result from conflicting values, and largely from oppression on the basis of class, race, gender, sexuality, religion, age, ability, etc.
karl marx conflict perspective
Karl Marx (Conflict Perspective)
  • Capitalism is the root of all conflict in society! It creates a class of owners (bourgeoisie) and workers (proletariat), resulting in the exploitation of the working class
  • Class struggles create an “us versus them” mentality by dividing the world into the “haves” and the “have nots”!
  • Religion is “the opium of the people” preventing a proletariat revolution
max weber conflict perspective
Max Weber (Conflict Perspective)
  • Built on the ideas of Marx, saying that we must look at economics (wealth), power, and prestige (as well as culture) to understand social problems and inequality
  • Additionally, he felt that ideas, values, and thought systems affected economic development
    • “Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” as an example
other types of conflict
Other types of Conflict:
  • Feminist Theory: Fills the holes left by Marx to understand inequality between men and women
  • Multicultural theory: Examine society in terms of racial and ethnic inequality
symbolic interactionist perspective
Symbolic Interactionist Perspective:
  • Micro level interactions
  • Individual behavior is based on the symbols and shared meanings we learn- in other words, on what we “believe” not just what is objectively true
  • So…society is “socially constructed” through human interaction, and symbols change through these interactions
  • We learn these symbols during interactions with other individuals and groups
order for symbolic interactionists
“Order” for Symbolic Interactionists:
  • Social interaction and shared beliefs (subjective) create order
  • Change results from changing belief systems and ever-changing interactions
why do we have inequality
Why do we have inequality?
  • Functionalism: It is functional! “Someone has to do those jobs…”
  • Conflict Theory: It is the result of struggle over resources
  • Symbolic Interaction: It results from the socially constructed meanings or symbols we create
  • Functionalism: Hard time explaining change (since it it a dysfunction); is a conservative view that downplays inequality between groups (defends the status quo)
  • Conflict: Overlooks cohesion and stability, and improvement in some social problems
  • Interactionist: Reminds us that individuals create social structure, but too subjective in interpretation and is not a good explanation of inequality (ignoring the effect of larger social structures and culture)
how do you choose
How do you choose???
  • Theoretical approach may change somewhat depending on the type of question or problem you are studying
  • Use more than one approach to achieve the best picture of the problem or issue
to test what we ve learned
To test what we’ve learned
  • Answer choices are functionalism, symbolic interactionism, or conflict theory):
    • Which sociological approach focuses on the inequality that exists between different groups?
    • Which sociological perspective would be most likely to state that our education system satisfies certain basic social needs crucial to the functioning of our society?
to test what we ve learned1
To test what we’ve learned:
  • How could you use each of the three theoretical perspectives to explain the criminalization of drugs in society?
conflict perspective on deviance
Conflict perspective on Deviance:
  • The wealthy, big business, and select government leaders determine the law!
  • The law:
    • Protects and keeps the powerful in power
    • Prevents rebellion using arrest and imprisonment
    • Keeps the focus of the criminal justice system off of the rich (WHITE COLLAR CRIME) and on the working class
      • Occasional publicity of white collar crime (Martha!) gives the illusion of fairness in the criminal justice system
symbolic interactionist explanations of deviance
Symbolic Interactionist explanations of Deviance:
  • Differential association vs. Labeling theory
    • Which is best for “Hooked: Illegal Drugs”?
functionalism and deviance
Functionalism and Deviance:
  • Durkheim: Deviance creates social order by clarifying moral boundaries and norms, promoting social unity, promoting social change (e.g., civil rights movement)
  • To stop dysfunction from occurring?
  • To provide jobs in what institutions?