Explain and contrast the key features of micro and macro models of sociology

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sociology is a wide field of study dedicated to the study of human interaction, systems, policies, rules, and individual human phenomena. It is a study of massive proportions, for which the field in itself needs to be broken down into models that are based on the subjects of study. Society is made up of, both, the whole and the individual society. Hence, the models of study are divided into micro sociology and macro sociology models. There is also a meso level in the middle, but let's understand the small and the big models first. 

The micro sociology models are study formats that are aimed to analyze society from a smaller viewpoint. 

This being said, the micro level is known for the following:

  • studies people individually or in small groups
  • studies people or small groups within their natural confines
  • studies people or small groups within a specific social situation.

An example of a micro-level study model would be using a participant in two different situations to see if something is found. For instance, how does a man who lives in poverty react in two different scenarios involving money- both scenarios being familiar to the participant. 

Another example would be tracking down a day in the life of a refugee in an asylum, the reaction of a neighborhood during the broadcasts on 9-11, or even the interaction among high school seniors in a classroom after an event etc. 

Hence, the micro-level of sociology encompasses: 

  • people (individuals)
  • partnerships, such as marriage, common-law couples, boss/employee
  • neighborhoods
  • families
  • households

In contrast, the macro level model of sociology studies larger groups of individuals within broader contexts that may change and influence them in the long run. 

In these studies the scope must be broader but, at the same time, the results of investigations are expected to be quite influential given the large number of people that are affected by a phenomenon, or by any social shift.

The macro-level models involve:

  • A whole country or nation
  • Society at large
  • Our human civilization
  • International issues

Here is when we get into huge scenarios such as war, world hunger, political parties, a coup d'etat, social policies, healthcare reform, and much more at that level.

The one thing that the two models have in common is the significant amount of insight that they both bring into an investigation. The human factor permeates everything that occurs in our planet. As a complex thinking entity, the human being has the capacity to adapt or isolate, to modernize or become obsolete, to rule as well as to break the rules, to live and let live...or not. Therefore, the patterns of behavior, interactivity, communication, and intellectualism that surface in both types of investigations are rife with rich insights about the uniqueness of our human nature, no matter how individualized our natures are.