Unit 7: sociological perspectives P1: In this section I will be explaining the principalsociological perspectives. Sociology is the study of human social relationships andinstitutions. Sociology investigates the social causes and consequences of thingssuch as love, racial and gender identity, family conflict, deviant behaviour,aging, religion and faith.
Sociologists emphasize the careful gathering andanalysis of evidence about social life to develop and enrich our understandingof key social process. The research methods and theories of sociology yieldpowerful insights into the social process shaping human lives and socialproblems and prospects in the contemporary world. Sociology offers adistinctive and enlightening way of seeing and understanding the social worldin which we live in and has an impact on our lives. Functionalism emphasizes that as general rule, society is based onagreement. “It also examines how different a societal institution in societywork together to ensure that members of society get things they need” (Anon, 2018). Thisis often referred to as a structural theory as it sees society being linkedtogether, which meant that they saw society working well together. Thefunctionalist method to sociology can be better understood by referring tosociety as the human body, just like our bodies have major organs and mechanismso that we are able to deal with illnesses the different institutions thatthere are in society all contribute so that society works together well. Theywork together so that society runs smoothly, they also believe that ourbehaviour is predetermined as a result of the socialisation process and a smallportion of our behaviour is bases on our personal choices.
They believe that weare programmed to behave in certain way. However, functionalist don’t providean explanation of negative behaviour such as criminal activity and abuse whichcauses a threat to society. Talcott Parson played a significant role in the developmentof functionalism. “He supported a structural-functional analysis, aninvestigation of the manners by which the interrelated and communicating unitsthat shape the structures of a social system, add to the improvement and upkeepof that system” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2018). He saw importantinstitutions such as religious organisations, the education system and peergroups working alongside each other to spread their shared norms and value tothe new generation which would allow continuity and stability in society. He viewed the society working asa system, being made up of different institutions which all had a role in orderfor society to run smoothly. He saw the functions of families in modernsocieties in terms of socializing children as well as supplying psychologicalstability for adults. “George Murdockwas an American anthropologist who specialized in social theory” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2018).
He claimed that families had four functions in society which were; the sexualfunction which allowed the expression of sexuality in accepted environments, the reproductive functions which deliveredstability for the upbringing of children, socialisation which entailed the obligation of teaching kids how tobehave appropriately in society as well as the economic function whichconsisted of food, shelter and financial security for family members. “Auguste Comte was a philosopher who established sociology, he trusted in positivismwhich is the indication that only scientific truth is the real truth” (Study.com,2018). He said that just as our body parts work together in harmony social institutions allwork together and contribute to the society we live in. Functionalists see the family as a vitalorgan in maintaining the body of society which is done through primary socialisation and this takes placefor most of us within a family and this could be your birth family, a family ofadoption or a foster family.
Infunctionalist think that family is a particularly important institution as itis a significant element of society as it presents the vital functions ofsocialising with children and making sure they cater to their family member’sneeds. Murdock and Parson show how well families work together but they fail toshow the conflict that goes on such as violence and abuse that would go onwithin the family. Functionalist also do not display that woman suffer fromsexual division of labour, while the women are caring for their children themen are carrying out extra responsibilities. There are no explanations for the functionalist’s outlook of separationof roles into male being the breadwinner and the female taking care of theirchildren and doing house work. These roles lead to the disadvantages beingexperienced by women. The advantages of functionalism are that itexplains how society works together, this is one of the most influential theoryup to the 1950’s and is particularly effective at analysing how different partsof society work alongside each other to cater for its member’s needs. Anotheradvantage is that its emphasises the importance of consensus which is having ageneral agreement, it also shows how society tends to operate more better whenpeople are able to decide and work together.
However, there are disadvantagesof functionalism such as how it fails to explain conflict, functionalistsmostly show how well different institutions work together so keep a constant insociety but they do not talk about the negative behaviour that goes on. Theyignore that there may be institutions which are dysfunctional that exist,Durkheim argues that crime was functional up to a point as when criminals receivepunishment for their actions it reminds everyone of shared values and norms.Although many would disagree and say that crime as a whole is dysfunctional andonly appears as societies is characterises by conflict and unfairness. Marxismis a structural and conflict model; they also have a structuralistoutlook.
They see families contributing to a stable social system and would regardthe servant of the capitalist system. “A sociological perspective firstassociated with Karl Marx which sees the institutions of society as organisedto meet the interests of the ruling classes.” (Anon, 2018). In Marxist theory the bourgeoisie are the superiorsocial class who have much power, they own businesses etc and are able toorganise the economy as well as other significant social institutions to theirown benefit. Marx refers to the rich capitalist as the bourgeoisie and theexploited working class as the proletariat, they have only their labour to selland work for the bourgeoisie. Marxists argue that the bourgeoisie hold power inother social institutions as well as having an impact on society as theycontrol legal systems and influence curriculums in school.
They also see thatfamilies provide a stable home and are ready to make a large profit for theiremployers. “Karl Marx was a German writer and politicalrevolutionary who had an impact on conflict theories in sociology” (Bbc.co.uk, 2018).
Heargues that all societies excluding simple hunting and gathering societies arebased on social divisions between those who gain from economic systems as wellas those that don’t. he held the view that in industrial societies during histime there were two social classes which were; the bourgeoisie/capitalist whowere the smaller superior group that owned places of employment. The proletariatwho are a much larger group but were poorer and were at the hands of bourgeoisiegroup who were their employers. Marx though that conflict would lead to revolutionas there was an unequal bond between the bourgeoisie group and the proletariatgroup and conflict was essential in the economic system. Louis Althusser arguesthat capitalist societies have survived not just by driving labourers toacknowledge the system yet by creating ideological state apparatuses whichgives ideas that legitimate or justify the capitalist systems and its classinequalities. Ideological state apparatuses included the education system, massmedia, families and religious organisations. Friedrich Engels was a German philosopher, he foundedMarxist theory alongside Karl Marx. Marx and Engels argues that in the eventthat you are to comprehend human history you should not consider it to be thestory of great individuals or the conflict between states.
Rather, you shouldconsider it to be the narrative of social classes and their battles with eachother. Marx and Engels clarified that social classes had changed after sometime however in the nineteenth century the most essential classes were thebourgeoisie and the proletariat. Marxists see the family as a worker of thecapitalist bourgeoisie system. Marxists likewise take a look at the darker sideof the family such as; aggressive behaviour at home and child abuse. Believethat the family reproduces social inequality from one generation to the next.Marxists trust that the family, as a social establishment, isn’t worried aboutbuilding a value consensus, yet with showing its individuals to submit to thevalues and beliefs of the capitalists. Nuclear families perform ideologies forcapitalism, they think that nuclear families are dominant in bourgeoisiesocieties.
Families work for income and buy necessities from capitalist manufacturersand capillaries make income from this. Theadvantages of Marxism are that it’s very influential, this theory has becomethe most effective approach to sociology from the 1960’s onwards and Marx’sideas have been understood in many different ways by different sociologistgroup. Ideas that stem from Marxism could debatably interpret the existence ofsociologist policies such as the NHS. Another advantage of Marxism is that thistheory analyses power and conflict in society as well as explaining as to whythere is uneven distribution of authority and wealth between social classes. Alsoit explains inequality, it shows a more critical view on capitalist societycompared to theories such as functionalism.
The disadvantages of Marxism arethat it overlooks ideas which may have an impact on behaviour. It has more offocus on class conflict whereas issues which affect behaviour such as gender orrace are not given attention. “Feminism is the concept of the political, economic, and socialequality of both genders” (Merriam-webster.com, 2018). Feminism is a conflict theory, both men and women are in conflict witheach other. Feminists have fought for many changes for women, some of them havecampaigned for changes within law and social policies, voting rights whichwomen are now allowed to vote and have changed the way boys and girls aresocialised based on their sex. Some feminists adapt a more radical approach sothat they can overturn patriarchy structures that disadvantage women.
Feminist arguethat in most societies men have more of an advantage in comparison to women. Keyinstitutions such as businesses, political institutions are controlled by menas well as having a more dominant role in personal relationships, family andintimate relationships. Which implies that society is based on a strugglebetween men and women, inequality and disagreement.
Feminism has had a hugeimpact on many people’s lives for the better, it had opened up many opportunities. There are four main types of feminism; Liberalfeminists believe that the main cause of gender inequality are ignorance andsocialisation, they don’t believe social institutions are inherently patriarchal.They also believe that men and women are becoming more equal as time goes by.Liberal feminists point to various legal reforms which promote sexual equalitysuch as the sex discrimination act 1970. “This act of the parliament of the United Kingdomwhich protected men and women from discrimination on the grounds of sex or marital status” (Legislation.
gov.uk,2018). The fact that girls now outperform boys in education, there arealso now amounts of men and women who are now paid equally in work. Radical feministssee society as well as its situations as patriarchal dominated and rules bymen. They view the oppression of women as the most fundamental form of oppression,one that cuts across boundaries of race, culture and economic class.
They are mostlyconcerned with rape, violence and pornography which they view as techniquesthrough which men have secures and sustained authority over females. Some radicalfeminists go as far as claiming to be homosexual as they think that by engagingin a heterosexual relationship would be like sleeping with the enemy whichmakes them think that by doing this they are free from tyranny and patriarchy. Marxistfeminists ignore gender equality; marxist feminists attempt to combine the two approaches.They see that women are exploited by capitalism ad patriarchy for example,women produce the labour force free through their unpaid domestic labour, by producingchildren and socialising the next generation of workers. This benefits both menand women who don’t have to do unpaid work and capitalism which has an endlesssupply of future workers.
Intersectional feminists are interested in ways whichother identities interact and overlap with gender. “Intersectional feministsdeals with women of colour experience abusive behaviour and rape in a waysubjectively not the same as the ways that white women encounter them” (En.wikipedia.org,2018). This includes groups such as black feminist all who agree that wecan’t comprehend that without gendered relationships without understandingclass, age, ethnicity, disability, nationality or sexuality.
Somefeminists argue the main cause of women’s oppression in the family is not men,but capitalism. They argue that women’s oppression performs several functionsfor Capitalism. If women’s primary role is domestic and they are confined fromworking, this suggests that they’re available later to be gone up againstbriefly as fundamental by the Bourgeoisie as well as making generation moreadaptable.
Feminists have been focal in condemning gender roles related withthe traditional nuclear family, particularly since the 1950s. They havecontended the traditional nuclear has customarily performed two key capacitieswhich oppressed women such as socialising girls to accept submissive rolesin their family, whilst socialising boys to believe they were much superior. An advantagesof feminism is that it emphasises inequality, it has played a huge role in challengingmany of the dominant assumptions about society made by traditional sociologiststheories such as functionalism. It also shows the negative side of family lifesuch as violence, child abuse and other forms of inequalities between men andwomen.