What is sociology? Sociology is the study of human social relationships and institutions. Sociology’s subject matter is diverse, ranging from crime to religion, from the family to the state, from the divisions of race and social class to the shared beliefs of a common culture, and from social stability to radical change in whole societies. Unifying the study of these diverse subjects of study is sociology’s purpose of understanding how human action and consciousness both shape and are shaped by surrounding cultural and social structures.
Structuralist theories Structuralist are interested in describing and understanding the main social institutions e. g. •Family •Education system •Health services •Economy •Political institutions •Religious groups •Media They are concerned with how these institutions relate to each other and how they determine individual behaviour. Functionalism Definition:- It is a sociological approach which sees the social institutions of the society as working in harmony with each other, making specific and clear contributions towards the smooth running of the society.
Emile Durkheim (1858 – 1917) French sociologists, often referred to as the Father of Sociology, helped to establish Sociology, as a scientific discipline. Durkheim was one of the first people to explain the existence and quality of different parts of a society by reference to what function they served in keeping the society healthy and balanced – a position that would come to be known as functionalism. Durkheim also insisted that society was more than the sum of its parts. Talcott Parsons (1902 – 1979).
He was for many years best known sociologist in the United States and indeed one of the best known in the world. He produced a general theoretical system for the analysis of society that came to be called structural functionalism. He attempted to derive from the work of his predecessors a single “action theory” based on the assumptions that human action is voluntary, intentional, and symbolic. He developed the concept of the “sick role” Criticism of the perspective It does not address areas conflict found in modern and probably all societies. Such as:-
•Domestic abuse •Crime •Unequal pay Conflict theory, Marxism:- Karl Marx (1818 – 1883) He is a German philosopher, political theorist, sociologist, and communist revolutionary, whose ideas played a significant role in the development of modern communism and socialism. Behaviour is shaped by society but the economic system defines society and peoples position within it. Conflict will naturally arise in any stratified society leading eventually to revolution and the overthrow of the upper class (bourgeoisie) by the under privileged masses (proletariat).
Criticism of Marxism Like functionalists, Marxists believe that individual behaviour is the direct result of the socialisation process with little room for personal choice. Feminism Radical Feminism For radical feminists it is men not capitalism who dominate and opress women, family is a particular insitution – man is head of the famil. Socialisation of girls as future housewives and mothers is a form of opression which is a charecteristic of the nuclear family.
Soceity in general relfects the patriarchal model of the family – men hold positions of power and make decisions on behalf of and without the input of women. Liberal Feminism Liberal Feminists argue that changes have taken place. Representation Of The People Act 1928 – women allowed to vote on equel terms with men, Equal Pay Act 1970, Equel Opportunities Act 1975. Liberal Feminism is individuals form of feminism, concentrating on women having the ability to maintain their equality through being responsible to their own actions and choices.
The ideology of the liberal feminist is that women will transform soceity throught their own personal interactions with the opposite sex. The liberal feminists also beleive that the equality of men and women can only be acheived by changes being brought through political and legal reform. They want the eradication of institutional bias and implementations of fairer laws and towards women. Some of the main issues of liberal feminism is reproductive and abortions rights, sexual harrassment, voting rights, education, affordable childcare and affordable health care.
Marxist feminism Women, especially working class women seen as oppressed both by capitalism and by men. Women produce the next generation of workers and bring them up so they can sell their labour in factories and offices of capitalism. Women supports their husbands and children and can also work outside the home as well but they don’t have any power at work or with their family. Interactionism This is the study the dynamics within small groups and focus on how they influence individual behaviour and shape soceity.. Examples..
•Teenage Gangs •Staff •Patients •Visitors on hospital wards •Social interaction in school classrooms Some interactionists could ask:- •Who are the formal leaders? •Do some have more power than others? •How do different people see themselves? •Are there some informal leaders who actually have power in the group? Interactionists focus on the self and how we perceive ourselves in the social world. They see individuals as influenced by the socialisation process but having the power to choose how they will actually behave. Collectiveism
Is when polictial beliefs which stress importance of a collective soceity which looks after its weaker members and emphasis on group not individual, goals. The goverment should provide welfare not private organisations like charities or insurance companies. It is agreed that the state should be responsible for:- •Addressing poverty through a wide range of welfare benefits including family allowance, unemployment and sickness benefit and state pensions. •Improving houses conditions through the building of the council housing.
•Supporting policies of full employment through the development of labour exchanges. •Fighting and preventing illness through the National Health Service. The new right It is believed that the state should pay as small role as possible in the welfare provision. Welfare is the responsibility of the individual and his/her family. It is also believed that the welfare creates a dependency culture. Policies that are part of a general belief in the free market – privatisation of public utilities:- •Electricity and gas suppliers •Telephone services •Public transport •Shipbuilding and aerospace industries.