Sociological Theories

A Level Sociology Theory and Methods | A Level Sociology Social Action Theory

A page of links to posts on the following topics: (1) Positivism and Interpretivism, (2) Is sociology a science?, (3) Sociology and value freedom, (4) Functionalism, (5) Marxism, (6) Feminism, (7) Social action theory, (8) Post and late modernism, (9) Sociology and social policy. 

Together these posts cover the ‘theory’ part of the Theory and Methods part of the AQA’s A Level Syllabus, which are assessed as part of A level papers 1 and 3.  It’s gradually being populated should be completed by end of February 2017. 

For links to posts about qualitative, quantitative, primary and secondary research methods – see the research methods page.

If you like this sort of thing, then you might like my ‘theory and methods mind maps‘…10 mind maps in PDF, PNG, and SMXX (Simple Mind mind mapping software) format – covering all of the topics below…



Social Theory At a Glance

An overview of theory and methods for second year A level sociology a very brief overview covering the bare-bones of (1) Positivism and Interpretivism, (2) Is sociology a science?, (3) Sociology and value freedom, (4) Functionalism, (5) Marxism, (6) Feminism, (7) Social action theory, (8) Post and late modernism, (9) Sociology and social policy. 

Positivism and Interpretivism

Positivism, Sociology and Social Research – detailed class notes on the relationship between The Enlightenment, industrialisation and positivist sociology

Positivism and Interpretivismvery brief summary revision notes covering the relationship between the scientific positivist world view and quantitative methods and the humanistic interpretivist worldview and qualitative methods. 

Is Sociology  A Science?

Is Sociology a Science?a summary covering a Positivist view of sociology as a science contrasted to an Interpretivist view of sociology as a humanistic discipline; sociological criticisms of the objectivity of science (Latour and Kuhn’s Paradigm Critique); Sayer’s realist view of sociology, and postmodern views of science. 

Sociology and Value Freedom

Sociology and Value Freedom – class notes, quite detailed


The Functionalist Perspective on Societymoderately detailed class notes covering Durkheim’s ideas on social facts, anomie and mechanical and organic solidarity, and Parson’s ideas on value consensus, the importanct of socialisation and evolution through structural differentiation. 

Robert Merton’s Internal Critique of Functionalism class notes, quite detailed

The Functionalist Theory of Society  Revision Notes – very brief revision notes covering Emile Durkhime’s and Talcott Parson’s Functionalist Theory, Robert Merton’s internal critique of Functionalism, and some overall evaluations; also a very brief summary of Functionalist thought applied to the family, education, modernisation theory, crime and research methods. 


The Traditional Marxist Perspective on Society – class notes, quite detailed 

Althusser’s Scientific Marxismclass notes, quite detailed

Gramsci’s Humanist Marxismclass notes, quite detailed

Eight Criticisms of Traditional Marxism – evaluative post, quite detailed

Eight Ways in Which Marxism is Still Relevant Today – class notes, quite detailed, covering such things as the continued exploitation of workers in the developing world and contemporary evidence of right-wing agenda setting in the mainstream media.

The Marxist Theory of Society Revision Notes – very brief revision notes covering the key ideas of Karl Marx, Antonio Gramsci and Louis Althusser.


Feminist Theory – A Summary for A-level Sociology brief summary revision notes for liberal, radical, marxist and postmodern Feminist theory

Social Action Theory

Social Action Theory – A Summary brief summary revision notes 

Max Weber’s Social Action Theory – fairly detailed class notes on some of the key ideas of Max Weber, the founding father of social action theory

A Summary of Erving Goffmans’s Presentation of Self in Everyday Life

Outline and explain two reasons why Interpretivists prefer to use qualitative research methods (10)

Post Modernism

Modernity, Postmodernity and Late Modernitysummary grids

From Modernity to Postmodernity – brief class notes, with pictures

Postmodernity and Postmodernismmore detailed class notes, summary of Pip Jones’ ‘Social Theory’ book

Three Examples of Postmodern Thinkers –brief class notes

Postmodernity and the Point of Sociologybrief class notes

Criticisms of Postmodernism –brief class notes

Lash and Lury – The Global Culture Industry – Summary of a book which has something of the postmodern about it

Late Modernism 

Critical Responses to Postmodernismmore detailed class notes (covering Beck and Giddens)

Anthony Giddens – Modernity and Self Identityin 14 bullet points!

Anthony Giddens – Modernity and Self Identity, chapter one summary – very detailed class notes

Late Modernism and the Point of Sociologybrief summary notes

Post and late modern views on the familybrief summary notes

Post and late modern views of educationbrief summary notes

Neoliberalism and the New Right

Neoliberalism and the New Right – An Introduction

The Neoliberal Theory of Economic Development 

Grenfell Tower – Profits Before Safety (2017)the case study of Grenfell Tower seems to be a text book study in the downsides of neoliberal austerity policies – cut spending on public safety and poor people die. 

Sociology and Social Policy

Perspectives on Social Policy detailed class notes

Perspectives on Social Policybrief summary notes

Applying Sociological Perspectives

Careers Guidance for Alternative Jobsor how to avoid getting a proper job

Careers Advice for TeenagersSociological perspectives on why A levels are no longer enough to get you a job

Vanilla Vloggers – Insubstantial Selves? – What do Sociologists think of the Zoellas of the virtual world?

How many likes does it take? Social media and dissatisfaction

What is Sociology? A summary of Bauman and May’s Thinking Sociologically, Chapter 1

Theory and Methods A Level Sociology Revision Bundle 

If you like this sort of thing, then you might like my Theory and Methods Revision Bundle – specifically designed to get students through the theory and methods sections of  A level sociology papers 1 and 3.

Contents include:

  • 74 pages of revision notes
  • 15 mind maps on various topics within theory and methods
  • Five theory and methods essays
  • ‘How to write methods in context essays’.


Mega Bundle Cover

For better value I’ve bundled all of the above topics into six revision bundles, containing revision notes, mind maps, and exam question and answers, available for between £4.99 and £5.99 on Sellfy.

Best value is my A level sociology revision mega bundle – which contains the following:

  1. over 200 pages of revision notes
  2. 60 mind maps in pdf and png formats
  3. 50 short answer exam practice questions and exemplar answers
  4. Covers the entire A-level sociology syllabus, AQA focus.