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Theories of Human Behavior - Essay Example

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This paper will attempt to describe the three key theoretical paradigms that dominated the research and study of sociological behavior in the 20th and 21st Centuries. These theories include functionalism, conflict, and symbolic interaction theories…
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Theories of Human Behavior
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Download file to see previous pages This research will begin with the discussion of Functionalism Paradigm. This paradigm relies on the idea that a society is a complex structure whose different parts work together to promote stability. The two main components of this perspective include social functions (this refers to the impacts caused by the society’s operation as a whole), and social structure (refers to the comparatively stable patterns of behavior). Structural functions liken society to a human body where every organ performs its unique function different from parts. Early functionalists include Comte, Durkheim, and Spencer. Its applications were further facilitated by American researchers Robert K and Talcott Parsons in the late 20th Century. The researchers believed that mental states (for example, pain, beliefs, and desires) are governed by their functional roles. This means that they are directly linked to other mental states, behavior outputs, and sensory inputs. Conflict Paradigm This theory relies on the assumption that the society is a complex system that is comprised of conflict and inequality which causes social change. Privilege and power are distributed unequally by gender, social class, age, and race. However, these inequalities can be restructured through various institutions such as schools. For instance, placing students in academic and non-academic programs does not depend on the talents of the students, but on their social backgrounds. Karl Max is the pioneer of this theory, and he was not only interested in investigating the structure of the society, but he also opted for change for better societies. This is the theory that is currently being used in societies to achieve gender balance. For example, women in Ontario, Canada, are applying this theory to fight for their rights in the society. However, it has a flaw that it does not reveal any sign of social unity, but it stresses on the pursuit of political goals. Symbolic Interaction Paradigm This is a broader framework of the sociological theory. It relies on the assumptions that people learn and develop new ideas through the process of social interactions. The origin of this theory traces its roots to Max Weber’s suggestions that people behave in accordance with the way they interpret real-world phenomena. This theory was officially introduced into the field of psychology by American philosopher, George Herbert Mead, in the 1920s. This theory describes people by analyzing the subjective meaning people impose on behavior, events, and objects. Subjective meaning is of significance in this context, since people only trust the things they believe in. Psychologists and Philosophers, therefore, believe society is structured based on people’s interpretations. In the society, different individuals analyze their colleagues’ characters depending on how they interpret these behaviors. This is what forms social bonds among different people. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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