Sociological theories offer a set of guiding questions and key concepts that address how societies operate and how people relate to one another.
A sociological theory is a set of core assumptions and core concepts that speak to how societies operate and how people in them relate to one another and respond to their environment. Three major theories dominate the discipline of sociology:
3. Symbolic Interactionist.
Functionalists focus on how the "parts" of society contribute in expected and unexpected ways to social order and stability and to social disorder and instability.
Two types of functions are:
1.Manifest (anticipated) Parts can also be disruptive to order and stability. When a disruption is anticipated, the dysfunction is manifest.
2.Latent (unanticipated or unintended). When a disruption is unanticipated or unintended, the dysfunction is latent.
The conflict perspective focuses on conflict over scarce and valued resources and the strategies dominant groups use to create and protect social arrangements that give them an advantage over subordinate groups.
Conflict can take many forms, from physical confrontations to emotional manipulation. In any society, dominant and subordinate groups compete for scarce and valued resources.
Symbolic interactionists focus on social interaction and related concepts of self-awareness/reflexive thinking, symbols, and negotiated order. Symbolic interactionists draw upon the following concepts:
1. Reflexive thinking, the process of stepping outside the self and observing and evaluating it from another's viewpoint;
2. Symbols are kind of physical phenomenon to which people assigns a name, meaning, or value
3. Negotiated order is the sum of existing and newly negotiated expectations, rules, policies, agreements and understandings.
Sociologists adhere to the scientific method; that is, they acquire data through observation and leave it open to verification by others.
The scientific method is an approach to data collection that relies on two assumptions:
1. Knowledge about the world is acquired through observation, and
2. The truth of that knowledge is confirmed by verification