Sociology – Topic 3 Theories Of Society

Notes on sociological perspectives for AS Sociology

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Richard Emma Rudd BMA
22nd October
Sociology ­ Topic 3 Theories of Society
Highlevel theories such as Functionalism, Marxism, Feminism, Interactionism,
and Postmodernism focus on trying to explain how and why society is ordered.
Highlevel theories can be known as `Sociological Perspectives'.
Functionalism has a positive view of society.
This theory views society as a system that is based on cooperation.
Each part of the social structure has a function and contributes to society
as a whole.
Criticism of Functionalism
It presents a deterministic view of human behaviour ­ humans are
pictured and shaped by society.
Functionalism plays down all the conflict that exists in society.
Marxism ­ Conflict Theory
Karl Marx (1818 1883) argues that it is a capitalist society
A capitalist society generates conflict between the rich ruling class and
the exploited workers. These groups will always be locked in conflict as
they have opposing interests.
Formal social control the ruling class use the police and military to
threaten `rebels' with force
A second strategy is to win the hearts and minds or people. Conflict
theorists argue that the powerful groups use the education system and
media to `brainwash' and manipulate the rest of the population into
accepting the values that prop up the system.
Criticism of Marxism
Marxism portrays people as puppets of the social system, unable to
resist idea of capitalism.
Feminists see the gender system as the main cause of conflict within
society. The social divisions between men and women
Gender inequality can be found in:
Occupations ­ there are men's jobs and women's jobs, in most
cases men's jobs bring higher rewards in terms of status,
power and pay.
Religious beliefs ­ which see men as superior to women
Marriage vows ­ state that the duty of a wife is to serve her
Family life

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Richard Emma Rudd BMA
22nd October
Criticism of Feminism
Feminists are preoccupied with gender inequality and tend to ignore
other aspects of society.
Interactionists do not see society as a ridged structure they place a lot of
emphasis on human action and freedom.
Interactionists point out that we make roles as well as simply take them.
Interactionists say people are not controlled by society.
Interactionists view society as a process of social interaction and
constant human activity.…read more


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