The three main sociological theories regard these entities very differently. According to structural functionalism, institutions are part of the organic whole of society and play important roles in this whole. The family, religion, and education play vital functions in preparing children to take part in society, and they are part of the way the entire society functions smoothly.
Conflict theory looks at the way in which the elite class keeps power away from other parts of society. These institutions, such as religious organizations, schools, and the family, perpetuate the inequalities of society. For example, high-quality education is only available to the wealthy and powerful, thereby perpetuating inequality, and religion can play a role in maintaining the class system and its inequalities.
Symbolic interactionism looks at the way people attach meanings to their relationships. People attach symbolic meaning to the way they interact with their families, schools, and religious...
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