(interpretative sociologists): study society at the level of individual
social interaction and interpretation of the social world as it is encountered through social
processes. They also focus more on
, that is, the human capacity to act in
accordance with their own understanding and definition of any given situation.
studying unemployment would be interested in the experience
unemployment. Microsociologists will tend to use qualitative methods
, such as
unstructured interviews, participant observation, ethnographic fieldwork or life history.
approaches are ones that examine a phenomenon from the level of
the whole society, and frame their explanations and theories at that level.
Macrosociologists focus on social structures and their relationships to one another in
studying unemployment might look at the national and regional
, the rates of job loss and job gain in different economic sectors.
They might analyze the effects of a rising unemployment rate on the gross national
Macrosociologists will tend to use quantitative methods
, that is, methods that
express phenomena in a way that can be measured and counted, such as reported rates,
structured, fixed choice surveys and interviews…etc.
Four established streams of sociological theorizing:
Order (Functionalist) Theories:
Structural functionalism: it was the dominant explanatory paradigm in North America
until the mid-1950s. Functionalism looks at society as an integrated whole, and the
questions it asks are concerned with how each part of society contributes to the
continuance of that whole.
Structural functionalism makes certain assumptions about society and about the
individuals that make it up.
Chief among these are:
Society exists both before and beyond the individuals who live within it.
by its participants.
Every social system has certain basic needs, or ‘functions’ (hence the name), that
must be fulfilled or met if the society is to be viable and to survive.
The interdependent structures in a social system (military, government, economy,
family, religion, etc) exist to fulfill one or more of these needs.
They have ‘functions’.
An institution that ceases to be ‘functional’, that is, to contribute to the maintenance of
social order, will eventually cease to exist, and will experience diminished importance in