Functionalism, Conflict and Symbolic-interactions Theories


We all live in the world where in the day to day life we have to interact with one another the so called the social world. Our interactions are governed by the social behaviors. These social behaviors can be understood through the understanding of some assumptions which have been made on the world understanding on interpersonal relationship and shared cognition. There are three theories which attempt to give this understanding on the social world which include: the functionalism or structural functionalism theory, the conflict or the Marxist theory, and the symbolic-interactionist which is sometimes referred to as constructionalist or interpretive theory. These are the main core concepts of sociology. The following discussion therefore, is inclusive of the background information of these core concepts as well as their illustration and application[1].

To start with, the three concepts have some comparisons and contractions in their relationship. Marxist and the functionalist view the society control being significant in that the people’s behavior and relationship within them are determined by the societal norms. The three concepts illustrate the responsibility carried by the social organization in every society like schools. They also show how these organizations help in construction of the shared values in the society. In the three concepts the society is always socially constructed where structural functions focus on different element- the families- in their functions to build a whole system[2]. Conflict theory focuses on the social conflicts attained as people interact in their different activities, while symbolic-interactionist addresses the way people dwell in a world which is socially constructed by different institutions.

Functionalist like the Malinowski view a society as one composed of institutions such as schools, and family. Marriage is also important where the functionalist assumes the non-existence of conflict or any diversity. In this the families with single parents should not exist where as marriage is a very important aspect. In Marxist theory families have no coinciding relationship with the marriages. External factors such as the environmental forces enhance their existence while shaping them. In symbolic interactionist there is no set importance on either marriage or families. They are all based on assumption. Structural functionalism assumes three major things: stability of the family, harmony of the family and the evolution of the social structures all believed to maintain the society[3]. Conflict theory has assumptions on competition in limited resources, revolution as a result of conflict, structural inequalities all meant to make up into better social structures. Symbolic-interactionist has assumptions in that human work toward things which are scheduled founding on the meanings through interactions and modifications based on interpretive practice all meant to bring about interpersonal interactions in people.

Functionalist assumes that power is the setting in that; the powerful individual is in position of making cultural organization from the family. The man is to assume the dominative power without allowing a challenging chance lest there arise any conflict. Single parents are believed to provide excess power towards their children in that they are the source of all power. Marxist has a different view in the same. Conflict is based on the inequalities on power. Authorities and powers are represented in the social classes based on values when parenting. It is therefore difficult for the single parents to attain power as a result of low status one might have. Symbolic point of view of power in a family is based on the negotiations. It is dependent on who has the ability to provide to the family. In single parenting power exist on the position to provide to the family


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