What level of analysis accompanies the three theoretical perspectives?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are two levels of analysis that are used in sociology. One is the macro level and the other is the micro level.  There are three main perspectives in sociology.  They are functionalism (also called structural functionalism) conflict theory, and interactionism (also called symbolic interactionism).  Therefore, each perspective cannot use a unique level of analysis.  There will be perspectives that share levels of analysis.

The two perspectives that share a level of analysis are functionalism and conflict theory.  Both of these use the macro level.  Functionalism holds that each aspect of a society is important to the overall health of that society.  Therefore, it looks at things such as why the family is important to society or why it is important to have deviance in a society.  Conflict theory holds that aspects of society come about as the result of conflict between major groups in society.  In each case, these perspectives are looking at broad aspects of society.  They are not looking at micro things such as how individuals or small groups interact with one another.

Symbolic interactionism does use micro level analysis.  Interactionism is interested in the ways in which people perceive the world and how they use their perceptions to shape their actions.  Symbolic interactionism, therefore, does look at things like the interactions between individuals.  When it does this, it is using the micro level of analysis.

Thus, functionalism and conflict theory tend to operate on the macro level of analysis while interactionism works on the micro level.