Theory and Methods - Functionalism

  • Functionalists see society to be like the human anatomy - all parts working together to create a working model overall. 
  • Each part of society works to benefit it overall.

Durkhiem and 'social facts':

  • things that are external to the individual
  • they constrain us

An example of a social fact is language. Durkheim says that social facts constrain us even if we do not realise that they're there.


Parsons believed that in order for society to survive, it had to solve four problems:

  • goal attainment
  • adaptation
  • intergration
  • pattern maintenance

Durkheim and Parsons believed that society had developed from being a simple to complex society.

Merton criticised Parson's view of society:

  • he says not everything is functional in society. To Merton, it could be: functional, dysfunctional or non-functional (postive, negative or non-existent).
  • in complex societies, there is a high degree of function automony
  • Created by: Hollie
  • Created on: 09-01-14 20:21

Theory and Methods - Marxism

Main ideas of society:

  • economy is of prime importance
  • class conflict is central
  • class conflict will ultimtely result in a better society

The bourgeoisie has ideolgical control over the proletariat.

The proletariat serve the interests of the bourgeoisie and therefore are exploited. There won't be a change in society until this is realised by the proletariat and they gain alternative ideas rather than the ones that are being fed to them by the bourgeoisie. 

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Theory and Methods - Feminism

  • Liberal Feminism - society is patriarchal
  • Marxist Feminism - patriarchal is an ideological aspect of capitalism. the ideological suggests that women are inferior to men  which makes it easier for capitalism to exploit women. Women are vulerable to economic recession.
  • Radical Feminism - Gender inequality is more important than class inequality. Men exploit and oppress women in all aspects of life. Patriarchal ideology is used to control women. When patriarchal ideology fails, women are still under the control of men due to the threat of violence and sexual aggression.


  • Some women may not feel as though they're being oppressed, some women may be happy to be housewives and full-time mothers.
  • Outdated view as women are no longer oppressed as much as feminists suggest in todays society.
  • Feminists ignore the influence of other social factors such as class and ethnicity. 
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Social Action Theory

  • Argue that the attitudes and thoughts of others infuence how we behave and act as individuals.
  • Society is the product of people interecting in social groups, trying to make sense of their own and each other's behaviour.
  • People look out for symbols given off by other people for a clue on how they're interpreting their behaviour - symbolic interactionism
  • Socialisation involves learning means and symbols for different social interactions.
  • Goffman: social interaction is about role-playing - we are all social actors engaging in the drama of everyday life. 


  • it fails to explore wider social factors such as ethnicity and social class
  • it faild to explore power differenes between groups and individuals
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