Sociological Perspectives in A Level Sociology
Given that ‘society’ is complex and multi-layered, a key aspect of studying A-Level Sociology is being able to view society and social action through a number of different sociological perspectives, or lenses, because different sociologists (and different people in general) look upon the same society and see different realities.
For example, consider a busy street and imagine different people looking at that same street: a shopkeeper, a thief and a consumer. The shopkeeper sees profit, the thief victims and the consumer sees products to buy.
Sociology consists of various different perspectives, all of which look at society in different ways. All sociological perspectives have something valuable to offer to the individual who wishes to understand society and no one perspective is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. It is up to the individual student to present positive and negative criticisms of sociological perspectives throughout the course.
Key Dividing Lines in Sociological Perspectives
1. Social Structure versus Social Action perspectives
Some Sociologists, known as structural theorists, emphasise the importance of institutions in providing social stability and regulating social action. They argue that such institutions form a structure that shapes human action and makes it predictable.
Other Sociologists, known as social-action theorists, argue that individuals have more freedom than structural theorists suggest. They also argue that society is more fluid and some interactionists go as far as saying that there is no such thing as society, just billions of individual level interactions.
2. Consensus versus Conflict Perspectives
Sociological Perspectives are also divided into Consensus perspectives which argue that, generally speaking, society is characterised by harmony and agreement, and Conflict perspectives, which argue that society is better seen as being made up of competing groups, with the powerful controlling institutions in society and oppressing the powerless.
3. Modern versus Post-Modern Perspectives
Modernist perspectives include Functionalism, The New Right, Marxism and Feminism and believe in ‘social progress’. They believe that social research can reveal the truth about which types of societies are best and actively work to construct a better society through social policy and more radical means. Postmodernists and to an extent Interactionists reject the idea of truth and the idea social progress is possible.
Sociological Perspectives very brief summary grid.
Unfortunately it didn’t cut and past very well from the word-processor, it looks much better in (evil) Microsoft Word or (good) Open Source word processor of your preference. At least the columns lined up properly, that’s the important thing!
Norms and Values
Positive Functions of Institutions
Capitalism and Private Property
· Sex and Gender
· Public-Private Divide
· Gender Scripts
· Liberal/ Marxist and Radical Feminism
· The I and the Me
· The looking glass self
· Social identity
· Backstage and Front Stage
· The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
· Service Sector Economy
· Consumer culture
· Individual Freedom and identity
· Social Fragmentation
| Core Themes emphasised by these perspectives
|Socialisation|| Power and stratification
|Identity||Culture and differentiation|
|Research Methods generally preferred
Later on – you’ll need to add in Late Modernism and other perspectives from other modules!