Theoretical Approaches

  • Macrosociology vs. Microsociology
  • 2 different analysis of sociology to study societies. Need a place to start or it’ll be overwhelming – individual people, different groups, and communities/cultures/subcultures in a population.
  • Macrosociology – large scale perspective, looking at big phenomena that affect big portion of population. Social structures and institutions, whole civilizations/populations. Looking for patterns and effects the big picture has on lives on small groups. Broad social trends in cities, and statistical data (as long as you’re careful about not making wrong interpretations).
    • Deals with matters like poverty, war, health care, world economy
    • Functionalism comes from macrosociology – looks at society as a whole and how institutions that make up the society adapt to keep society stable and functioning.
    • Conflict theory is also a macroperspective – the idea society is made of institutions that benefit powerful and create inequalities. Large groups are at odds until conflict is resolved.
  • Microsociology – face to face interactions, families, schools, other social interactions. Interpretive analysis of the society, look at sample of society and how individual interactions would affect larger groups in society. Ex. doctor-patient interactions, or family dynamics.
    • Symbolic interactionism – social theory that’s a microperspective, focuses on the individual and significance they give to objects, events, symbols, etc. in their lives.
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