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SOCIOLOGICAL
THEORY:
- REVISION -

CONTENTS:
Functionalism
Marxism
Feminist Theories
Action Theories
Globalisation, modernity and
postmodernity
Sociology and science
Objectivity and values in sociology
Sociology and social policy

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PARSONS:
Society as a system:
Uses an organic analogy: society is like a biological organism
3 similarities between society and biological organisms:
1. System: both are self regulating and 'parts' play an important role (organs = institutions)
2. System needs: Organisms have needs without which, they will die. For society,…

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2. Functional unity: Parsons assumes that all parts of society are tightly integrated into a single whole and
that change in one part will have a knock-on-effect - Merton argues that some parts may have
'functional unity' (independence from others)
3. Universal functionalism: Parsons assumes everything performs a positive function,…

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Materialism: humans have material needs - must work in order to meet them. In doing so, they use
forces of production
Forces were just unaided human labour but over time, people developed tools to assist production
As the forces grew, there was a division between 2 classes : 1) A…

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2. Economic determinism: assumes economic factors are the sole cause of everything - fails to recognise
humans can bring about change through own free will and actions
Weber: Calvinist ideas helped bring about modern capitalism

The two Marxism's:
Gouldner describes two Marxisms as:
1. Humanistic/Critical Marxism: some similarities with action…

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Liberal feminists: sexist attitudes and stereotypical beliefs about gender are culturally constructed and
transmitted through socialisation
Therefore, to achieve gender equality, we must change society's socialisation patterns: Liberal feminists
seek to promote appropriate role models in education and family (e.g. fathers taking on domestic
duties) and also challenge gender stereotyping…

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Women reproduce the labour force through their unpaid domestic labour both by nurturing and
socialising children to become the next generation of workers and maintaining and servicing the current
generation of workers
Women absorb anger that would otherwise be directed at capitalism - Ansley describe wives as 'takers
of shit'…

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Traditional action - involves routine or habitual actions; no conscious thought has gone into it
Affectual action -action that expresses emotion; important in religious and political movements
Evaluation:
Schutz - the action theory is too individualistic and cannot explain the shared nature of meanings
We can never truly understand an…

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We have a series of typifications (categories) we use to organise our experiences into a shared world of
meaning
The meaning of any action depends on its context - therefore meanings are potentially unclear and unstable,
especially if others classify the actions in a different way from oneself
Typifications stabilise…

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Makes an important attempt to overcome the division between structure and action in sociological
theory
Giddens implies that actors can change structures simply by deciding to do so: Archer - he
underestimates the capacity of structures to resist change - e.g. slaves may wish to abolish slavery but
lack the…

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