Sociological Theries - Essay Example

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The Impact of Structural Functionalism, Symbolic Interactionism, and Conflict Theory on Family [Author’s Name] [University] Abstract Sociological theories serve a perfect lens for examining the role and place of various institutions in society. Family is a common object of sociological analysis…
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Sociological Theries
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Download file to see previous pages Keywords: family, structural functionalism, symbolic interactionism, conflict theory. The Impact of Structural Functionalism, Symbolic Interactionism, and Conflict Theory on Family Sociological theories serve a good lens for reevaluating traditional institutions. Families and family patterns are so complex that a single theoretical perspective can hardly serve a relevant source of knowledge and learning. Structural Functionalism, Symbolic Interactionism, and Conflict Theory have always been the most relevant perspectives in the study of family and family patterns. The three theories create a foundation for understanding the complexity of family relations and the place of family in contemporary societies. It is through these theories that sociologists can produce concrete interpretations and develop comprehensive generalizations about family behaviors and patterns. Depending on the theoretical perspective, family can serve a functional element of society, exemplify a complex system of power relations and inequalities, or work as a microcosm of subjective meanings which people give to their own behaviors and the realities in which they live. Yet, no matter what theory sociologists choose, family is always an ever-evolving institution, which seeks to achieve stability and equilibrium, whose meaning constantly changes. How Each Theory Applies to Family Structural functionalism is probably one of the most popular instruments of sociological analysis. Morality, standards, functionality, motivation, and readiness to act are all indispensable elements of structural functionalism (Kingsburry & Scanzoni, 1993). The essence of functionalism is in everyone’s “conformity to a set of preexisting standards that promotes the greater good of the larger whole to which everyone belongs” (Kingsburry & Scanzoni, 1993, p.196). Families are no exception: based on the structural functionalism theory, family is a social institution designed to fulfill a set of clearly defined roles and ensure that this society can meet its needs. Like everything else in a functionalist society, families rely on shared values and must meet the established norms and standards (Andersen & Taylor, 2008). Even if families are losing some of their pre-modern functions, they immediately assume new ones (Hill, 2011). Certainly, families must have a well-defined structure: more often than not, gender stratification and strict distribution of roles are distinctive features of functionalist families. In functionalist families, men assume instrumental and breadwinning functions, whereas women are primarily responsible for meeting the socio-emotional needs of family and function in the private arena (Hill, 2011). It is no wonder that structural functionalism treats gender inequality as inevitable and even desirable, as long as it ensures conformity to the society’s gender norms. Symbolic interactionism caused a huge impact on the current understanding of families and family patterns. Unlike structural functionalism, symbolic interactionism treats institutions as microcosms, which rely on subjective meanings and interpretations of the social reality. Symbolic interactionism implies that people constantly interact with other people and the environment and product interpretations and definitions of their own and others’ actions (Goldberg, 2007). Based on symbolic interactionism, communication and language are the foundational ingredients of family functioning (Hill, 2011). Love, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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