What are the major differences between the functionalist and symbolic interaction perspectives in sociology? 

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Functionalism considers society at the structural, or "macro" level, focusing on the roles that institutions and even behaviors play in the workings of society. According to functionalist thinking, all parts of society are connected, and institutions have functions within this organic whole. For example, sociologist Emile Durkheim, one of the founders and earliest proponents of what would become known as "functionalism," argued that religion served a societal purpose: it encouraged people to adhere and accept social norms that contributed to order. Symbolic interaction focuses on the interpersonal, what we might call the "micro" level of society. In particular, it looks at the meanings people give to their interactions with others. Even behavior, symbolic interactionists argue, is symbolic.  People, as the first answer indicates, interpret behaviors in different ways, and they behave in ways that are shaped by these responses. They are not as interested in the functions that behaviors...

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