SOCIOLOGY AND THE FAMILY
Functionalism, the Conflict Theory, and Interactionism comprise the three main
These theories affect the way people think and perceive the world around
As a result, the development, nature and understanding of different social institutions,
including the family, health-care systems, religion, education, media, politics and economy, are
determined or affected by these three social theories. To understand the three theories and how
they affect different social institutes, one must first understand what a sociological theory is.
The definition put forth by Purdue states the following: “Sociological theory is a set of
assumptions, assertions, and propositions, organized in the form of an explanation or
interpretation, of the nature, form, or content of social action” (Purdue, p. 1).
Each sociological theory mentioned above – functionalism, conflict, and interactionism,
presents a different set of assumptions or perspective that define a particular way of
understanding of social action.
A social action is anything that takes others (society into
Social institutions revolve around social action.
An institute, like the family, is both
the product of social action, and the cause of social action through its life-giving nature and
principles of education.
The sociological theory of Functionalism is defined by Britannica Encyclopedia as “a
theory that stresses the interdependence of the patterns and institutions of a society and their
interaction in maintaining cultural and social unity” (Britannica Encyclopedia).
further implies that our social systems have needs and the social institutions provide functions
that respond to those needs.
Thus society functions on a need-answer basis that is established
through the patterns and interactions of social institutions.