ERIC Number: ED193097
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1978
Townley, Charles; Middleton, Mike
This monograph examines sociological perspectives and their applications. It is intended to help the college student coming to sociology for the first time to recognize that there are several perspectives within sociology and to disentangle the mass of terms associated with each. The first distinctive sociological perspective came from the work of Augustus Comte, who coined the word sociology from the Latin "socius" and the Greek "logos" in 1837. Comte's positivism, rather than examining the way individuals perceive the social world around them, assumes that society is an objective thing, "out there," waiting to be examined, analysed, and understood like the natural world. The functionalist perspective is rooted in the work of Emile Durkheim. Functionalism views society as an organism in which all the parts function in a way that ensures the continued well-being of the whole organism. The foundations of functionalism were built upon by later writers including Malinowski, Radcliffe-Brown, Parsons, and Merton. A conflict perspective offers us a view of society split into essentially two groups, aggregates, or classes whose interest conflict. The real foundations of the conflict theory are in the works of Marx and Engels. Other contributors include Weber and Dahrendorf. The monograph then turns to a discussion of phenomenology. Phenomenological approaches in sociology may be viewed in terms of a reaction against one of the major characteristics of traditional "mainstream" sociology. The sociological perspective known as symbolic interactionism is concerned primarily with the way that man interacts with his symbolic rather than his physical universe. The publication concludes with the statement that each perspective offers insights which illuminate each problem to some degree but, as yet, no one form of theorizing has overtaken all the others. (Author/RM)
Publication Type: Guides - Classroom - Learner; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Association for the Teaching of the Social Sciences (England).