The sociological perspective is not a phrase that we hear very often, and it isn’t one we use on a daily basis. You’d probably reach for a Webster dictionary or Google the term if asked to define sociological perspective.
The definition of perspective is “a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.” So what exactly is the sociological perspective? It is the way in which we view society, and how we see and interpret the events that occur within our social world and around us. How do we go about doing this? We learn from family, friends, co-workers and the media.
As we grow older our ideas change; we start to see that there is more to what we observe than just what we can see with our own two eyes. The sociological perspective requires us to “look beyond common sense understandings” (Macionis, 2015). To do this we employ the three main sociological perspectives which are functionalism, conflict theory, and interactionism.
Functionalism also known as the structural-functional approach is a “broad perspective in sociology that sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability” (Macionis, 2015).
In other words, it sees society as a machine with many different working parts that all come together to form one stable and efficient whole. An example of functionalism would be having a family. Families help to socialize children into the values and norms of society. Families also provide emotional support for one another during difficult times.
Conflict theory is the “broad perspective in sociology that sees society as an arena of inequality that generates conflict and social change” (Macionis, 2015). This perspective was started by Karl Marx who believed that our society was divided into two classes, the bourgeoisie (upper class) and the proletariat (lower class). The upper class owns the means of production (factories, businesses, etc.) and the lower class works in these places. Marx believed that the upper class was exploiting the lower class and that this would eventually lead to a revolution.
Interactionism is the “broad perspective in sociology that focuses on the patterns of communication, interpretation, and adjustment between people” (Macionis, 2015). This perspective looks at how we interact with one another on a daily basis. It tries to explain our behaviour by looking at the symbols and meanings that we attach to objects. An example of interactionism would be how we dress. The way we dress sends out a message about who we are and what we are like.
Have you ever pondered why it’s become a habit to immediately reach for your phone and Google the word? It’s because of sociological theories. According to Adrian Rapp and Lynda Dodgen, “The sociological perspective is a way of seeing the world.” (Rapp & Dodgen, 2014)
It is a discipline that studies society and the individual in relation to each other. The sociological perspective requires one to “look for patterns of social behavior” (Rapp & Dodgen, 2014). In order words, it means to find the regularities in our actions and see how those actions fit into the fabric of our social lives. The patterns that we see can be an indicator of what is important to us as a society.
For example, if you were to take a look at Facebook usage statistics, you would see that there is a high level of usage during work hours. This could be interpreted in a number of ways but one way to look at it is that our work has become a major part of our social lives. We use Facebook to stay connected with our friends and family, which are typically the people we work with.
The sociological perspective can be used to understand any number of social phenomena, from why we vote the way we do to how our attitudes about race are shaped by the media. It is a powerful tool for understanding the world around us and our place in it.
I’ve always had a passion for extracurricular activities as a youngster, and I was regularly to every football, basketball, and baseball game after school. Other sports , such as soccer, did not pique my interest as an individual, but my friends liked them! So when spring arrived and soccer was the season to watch, my pals asked me what I planned to do next.
At the games, I would sit with my friends and we would all talk about what was going on in our lives. We would discuss things like school, girls, and home life. It was at these soccer game that I began to see how important it was to have friends and be part of a group.
I started to see that people who were different from me were not always bad, in fact, they could be really fun to hang out with. This was a big turning point for me, and it helped me to become more sociable.
The sociological perspective has helped me to understand my own behavior and the behavior of others. It has given me a new way of looking at the world and the people in it.
I am now able to see how my actions and the actions of others are shaped by the society we live in. I can see how the family, friends, and strangers all play a role in our lives.
My tastes have also been influenced by my coworkers. I work for a bank, and all of my coworkers get their nails done; it can be as simple as painting on nails or getting the fake acrylic on them. When I say that every woman who works in a bank administration position or higher has her nails painted, I mean it.
At first, I was like “Why are they getting their nails done? Do they not have anything better to spend their money on?” But then I realized that it is part of the culture in my work place. It is what we do; it is our “thing.” When one person gets their nails done, the rest of us feel the need to get our nails done or we start to feel out of place.
I never really understood why women felt the need to have their nails done until I started working and seeing all of my co-workers doing it. Now, I understand that it is just something that we do; it is a part of our work culture. It is not something that we have to do, but it is something that we do because it is what we have always done.
I think that the sociological perspective has really helped me to understand the things that I see in my everyday life. It has helped me to understand why people do the things they do and how society influences our actions. Without the sociological perspective, I would not be able to understand why my co-workers get their nails done or why I feel the need to get my nails done when they do.