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Sociological Perspective

Sociological perspectives help us analyze the social problems in an holistic and organized manner. This essay would help you understand the society better.
Geeta Dhavale May 4, 2019
Society is a complex phenomena and is viewed differently by different people. The way of looking at society is called sociological perspective. Many social scientists and philosophers have established different theories to look at society that will help in solving various social problems.
Social perspectives consider social behavior of people, relationship and role of various social organizations, communities, social institutions, and interaction of all these things. Society is not a mere collection of people, it also includes various ideas, values, perceptions, and their transmission through various mediums.

Social Perspective

Academically, this is a part of social sciences and its definition includes the study of social phenomena by sociologists at different levels and from different angles. Its three main paradigms are symbolic interaction, functionalism, and conflict theory.


The functionalist angle analyzes the way various social organizations function. According to this theory, the society exists because of various social organization systems, such as schools, governments, law and order, etc., that have a particular structure. The smooth functioning of these institutions makes the society run.
This theory also believes that society is also changing, and so does the structure of social institutions that leads to social problems. So, this theory demands for changes and alterations in organizational structures so that the social problems are solved effectively.

Conflict Theory

As the name suggests, the conflict type focuses on the negative, conflicted, and ever-changing nature of society. This theory believes that social problems arise out of extreme contradictions in the society, such as unequal distribution of resources and unequal opportunities that cause the big gap between haves and have nots.
This theory attributes most of the social problems to underlying patterns of class conflict. This mindset is primarily based on the wittings of great German social theorist Karl Marx.

Symbolic Interaction

This viewpoint studies the actual ways in which people relate to each other and to various social groups and organizations. According to this theory, people attach meanings to symbols and act to their subjective interpretation of the symbols. This theory is often criticized, as it focuses on micro things and neglects the larger picture.

Some Examples

There are a lot of social phenomena or social problems that can be studied from these categories. We will discuss one social problem from all these. Let's take an example of a poor farmer who steals money. Here, stealing as a crime is considered a social problem. Functionalism theory will see how the man was tempted or forced to steal.
Functionalists may see this event as the result of changing societal structure, such as industrialization and urbanization that has led the man to migration. He is a farmer and has no industrial skills, and so, he is unemployed.
Because he is unemployed, he has no money, and so, he steals. So, according to this theory the structural change of the society has given the rise to this crime.
The conflict theory would say that this happened due to inequality in the society. The rich and powerful people control all the resources and so the poor are left with nothing. So, unless the gap between rich and poor is eliminated such crimes will be on the rise.
According to interaction viewpoint, the man was given no opportunities, because he belonged to lower caste or lower class. It will also emphasize on the moral values and ethics of the person. Basically, it would have a person centric or a case centric attitude.
Another example can be of rape as a social problem. The functionalist angle would see why the criminal rate is increasing and what kind of stringent rules and laws are necessary to curb this social menace. The conflict theory would associate rape with patriarchy, racial oppression, and class oppression.
Interaction angle would study the underlying gender bias of the society, where women are seen as dependent, passive, and sex objects; whereas men are socialized to be dominant and aggressive. So, rape is nothing but a display of masculinity.
These were some of the social perspectives with suitable examples. Critical theory, feminist theory, interpretative theory, etc., are some of the other prominent perspectives, that look at the society in their own manner.
These help you understand better, the importance of sociology and your world. You can combine them together and learn to look at the world differently, and establish your own mentality on life and society.