Major Theoretical Perspectives

Major Theoretical Perspectives - THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES...

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THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES In sociology, a theoretical perspective (otherwise known as a theoretical paradigm) is a way of thinking about society that guides thinking and research. There are three major theoretical paradigms used by sociologists. Each one focuses the researcher's attention on (1) particular types of questions about how society is organized and (2) on different explanations about why certain patterns are found in society. Sociologists tend to focus upon one or more of these paradigms. Paradigms give focus to sociologists’ research. The Functional (a.k.a.,Structural-Functional) Paradigm The structural-functional paradigm is a framework that depicts society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability. Major assumptions: Stability and harmony : Social patterns contribute to the maintenance of society. Parts work together for the good of the whole. Change occurs through evolution. Social structures slowly adapt to new needs and demands. Unnecessary or outmoded structures are eliminated. The two basic concepts of this paradigm are social structure (defined as a relatively stable pattern of social behavior) and social function (which refers to consequences of a social pattern for the operation of society). Early sociologists using this perspective included Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer, and Emile Durkheim. As sociology developed in the United States during the twentieth century, TALCOTT PARSONS continued to study society as a social system: He described four basic structures (subsystems) in society in terms of the functions they perform: economy for adaptation polity for goal attainment societal community or legal system for integration fiduciary system (e.g., family, religion, education) for pattern maintenance. Robert Merton further applied and developed the ideas of earlier structural-functionalist social scientists.
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This note was uploaded on 02/17/2011 for the course SOCY 305 taught by Professor Saucier during the Spring '09 term at South Carolina.

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Major Theoretical Perspectives - THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES...

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