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SOCIOLOGICAL
THEORY:

CONDENSED REVISION

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

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Parsons:
Uses organic analogy - society is like a biological organism
3 similarities between society and biological organisms:
Systems are both self regulating and 'parts' play important role (organs v institutions)
Systems both have needs to survive (oxygen v socialisation)
Both have important functions
Value consensus integrates individuals into social…

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Class society and exploitation - in the earliest stage, there was no class or exploitation (= primitive
communism). In class societies, one class owns the means of production which enables them to exploit the
labour of others for their own benefit - can control society's surplus product
Class consciousness -…

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Oakley distinguishes between sex and gender: sex = biological differences between males and females.
Gender = culturally constructed differences between masculine and feminine roles
Liberal feminists argue that sexist attitudes and stereotypical beliefs about gender are socially constructed
and transmitted through socialisation
to achieve gender equality, we must change society's…

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Traditionally ration action - involves routine or habitual actions
Affectual action - expresses emotion
Evaluation:
SCHUTZ - ACTION THEORY IS TOO INDIVIDUALISTIC AND CANNOT EXPLAIN THE SHARED NATURE OF
MEANINGS
WE CAN NEVER TRULY UNDERSTAND AN INDIVIDUAL'S ACTION SO IDEA OF VERSTEHEN CANNOT BE
APPLIED

Symbolic interactionism:
Emphasises the ways…

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Reflexivity = we use commonsense knowledge in everyday interactions to construct a sense of meaning and
order and stop indexicality from occurring - allows us to behave as if meanings are clear and obvious
In the case of suicide, coroners make sense of deaths by selecting particular features from the…

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Individualism - we experience greater personal freedom and can increasingly choose our own course in life
and define our own identity

Globalisation:
Technological changes: Led to developments, allowing us to cross continent, exchange info easily and
created time-space compression through global television and internet. Technology also brings risk on a…

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Jameson: Postmodernity represents a more developed form of capitalism because it commodifies virtually all
aspects of life
Harvey argues that this leads to the compression of time and space




SOCIOLOGY AND SCIENCE:
Positivism:
If we apply the logic and methods of natural sciences to the study of society, we will…

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Positivistsociologists seek to discover the causes of patterns they observe ­ aim to produce scientific laws
about how society works which can then be used to predict future events and guide social policies
Favour the use of quantitative data because it allows positivists to discover the laws of cause and…

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Postmodernists argue that a paradigm would also not be desirable in sociology because it is like a
meta-narrative and this will silence minority views and falsely claims to have a monopoly of the truth.

Realism, science and sociology:
Stress the similarities between sociology and certain kinds of natural science in…

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