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What are three major theoretical perspectives in sociology, namely, functionalism, conflict and symbolic interactionism. What is the level of analysis used by each perspective? What image of society does each perspective have? What core questions does each perspective ask?

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Structural Functionalism

  • The level of analysis for this theoretical perspective is the macro level. Functionalism holds that every institution in society acts like an organ in a body.  Each one is important to the proper functioning of the society. Therefore, this is a macro-level perspective that looks at major institutions and their impacts on society as a whole.
  • Functionalism has a very positive image of society.  Society is like an organism and all of its parts work together to create and maintain order and stability.  This view sees society as essentially harmonious and stable. We will see how this contrasts with the next perspective.
  • The core questions that this perspective asks have to do with the functions of each institution in society.  For example, functionalists would ask why/how poverty helps to keep society stable and orderly.

Conflict Perspective.

  • This theoretical perspective also operates on the macro level of analysis. It is most concerned with different groups in...

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