Structural Functionalist and Symbolic Interactionist Perspectives in Sociology - Essay Example

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Name of the of the Concerned Professor Sociology Structural Functionalist and Symbolic Interactionist Perspectives in Sociology In their attempt to make sense out of social phenomenon, sociologists tend to analyze social phenomenon at varied levels and from multiple perspectives…
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Structural Functionalist and Symbolic Interactionist Perspectives in Sociology
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Download file to see previous pages While doing so the quintessential objective of the sociologists is to conceptualize the varied social fundamentals and essentials, and their working. In that context the two basic orientation frameworks or theoretical perspectives resorted to by the contemporary sociologists are the symbolic interactionist perspective and the structural functionalist perspective. Structural functionalism is a sociological perspective that tends to be broad in its scope and intentions. The essential approach of structural functionalism is that it interprets society as a structure that has multiple interrelated parts (Propora 15). The prominent objective of structural functionalist perspective is to analyze society as a whole, while taking it to be a function of its number of constituent elements that are norms, institutions, traditions and customs (Propora 15). Structural functionalism is essentially an organic or perhaps anthropological approach towards sociology that takes society to be akin to a body, which relies on the proper functioning of its various parts or organs to work properly (Barnard 61). The analytical approach of structural functionalism is to assign and impute to every custom, practice or feature its exact scope and relevance in a stable and cohesive mother system. As per the structural functionalist perspective, each and every aspect of the society happens to be interdependent and do contributes to the overall functioning of the society. Structural functionalist perspective in sociology is often criticized for its inability to explain social change and for justifying status quo. In contrast, symbolic interactionist is a perspective in sociology which instead of being broad based like structural functionalism; tend to focus on micro level social interactions. Unlike structural functionalism, which has been of relevance in disciplines like anthropology, symbolic interactionism has been especially conducive to the sub-disciplines like social psychology and urban sociology. Symbolic interactionism intends the sociologists to focus on the details and symbols existing in the day to day life, the actual social relevance and meaning of those symbols and how do people interpret these symbols and use them to interact with each other (Buechler 21). As per the symbolic interactionist perspective of sociology, people ascribe meaning to symbols and do tend to socially interact as per the subjective meanings that they ascribe to these symbols (Dentler 46). This subjective interpretation of symbols is especially evident in verbal conversations where the words are used as symbols to convey meanings. A word having a particular meaning for sender may not hold the same meaning for a receiver. Hence, the symbolic interactionists devote serious importance to how people act and the meanings they ascribe to their own and others’ actions and symbols. Critics do blame symbolic interactionism for being incapable of focusing on the larger picture and to facilitate a macro level interpretation of social phenomenon. Pragmatically speaking about these two sociological perspectives, it would be erroneous to say that one is better than the other. The fundamental thing that needs to be noticed is that these two perspectives analyze and observe the social phenomenon from two different vantage points, thereby ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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