Purpose of Report:
The aim of this report is to investigate how different aspects of sociology are involved in the way society functions and determine how these approaches and theories work in different areas of society. This report also aims to show the distinct differences between the functionalist theory and the social interactionalism theory as well as the describing qualitative data and showing examples of the methods used to extract information. Additionally, this report will give in-depth descriptions of the Functionalist theory and the social interactionalism theory. The study of human society delves into the interactions individuals in society have with one another as well as the processes that are involved which aid in changing and preserving them. This is done by examining the various parts of society, for example, populations, communities, gender, age, institutions, or race. When it comes to studying human societies Common Sense and Sociological approaches help us understand different aspects of human societies in various ways. The Common-Sense approach is mainly based on opinion and lacks objectivity meaning that it is not entirely based on facts and is open to biased views. Common-sense approaches rely on individualistic or naturalistic explanations. These are based on personal, unreliable, and unscientific experiences or a belief that there is a natural order to aspects of society. The Common-Sense approach can either be Individualistic or Naturalistic. Ultimately, this report aims to help form an understanding of the different aspects of human societies and the theories, studies, approaches, and methods that are involved in a better understanding of it.
Description of Qualitative Data:
Qualitative data can be defined as data that characterizes and analyses. It is a non-numerical form of data. Qualitative data is the process of analyzing, collecting, and interpreting non-numerical data for example language. This particular type of data can be gathered by using in-depth one-to-one interviews, focus groups, dairy accounts, etc. Qualitative data is very important when it comes to determining particular characteristics or traits of an individual. This allows researchers to form guidelines in which large sets of data can be analyzed and observed. Qualitative data is mainly about perceptions of people and their emotions, these are then documented. The various types of qualitative data collection methods are predominantly focused on gathering reasoning, insights, and motivations. However, due to the fact qualitative data is unable to be measured, data collection tools and or methods that can be structured to a limited degree are used by researchers due to preference. An example of a qualitative data collection method is One-to-One Interviews. One-to-One Interviews have a more personal approach in comparison to other data collection methods alongside being one of the most frequently used data collection methods for qualitative research. This data collection method is conducted by a researcher or interviewer and they collect data that is sourced directly from the individual who is being interviewed in a one-to-one setting.
Description of functionalism within society:
Functionalism can be defined as the ‘Structural-consensus theory’. Functionalism presents the idea that each aspect of society is necessary in regard to the stability of society as a whole. The approach gained prominence in the works of 19th-century sociologists, particularly those who viewed societies as organisms. Emilie Durkheim visualized society as an organism, each part of society has its own roles which are very necessary, but they cannot function alone, this is exactly how organs in a living organism work. In functionalism, the various parts of society are made up of several social institutions which are each individually designed to fulfill various needs within society. Economy, Religion, Government, Education, Media, and Family are very important when it comes to truly comprehending the functionalism theory and the institutions that define sociology. An institution can only exist due to the fact that it serves an important role in a functioning society. When that institution no longer serves a purpose, it will wither away and no longer exist. When new needs appear, the current institutions will be created to meet the criteria. Value consensus can be defined as the shared values, roles, and norms that we learn through socialization. This also includes shared beliefs about what may be correct or incorrect. Patterned behavior stems from socialization. Overall value consensus helps maintain social order in society. According to meritocracy, everyone has equal opportunities to achieve, and also states that you will be rewarded based on your effort and ability.
Description of the Social Interactionalism Theory:
Social Interactionalism theory is an action theory that was founded by George Herbert Mead and the theory is used to further understand the way individuals interact with one another through the use of symbols. Symbolic interaction theory analyses society by addressing the subjective meanings that people impose on objects, events, and behaviors. It is believed by Mead that individuals alter and choose specific actions based on other people. This theory helps us understand how society is maintained and made through repeated interactions between people. It is believed that the interactions between individuals and the fact that society stems highly from human interactions are one of the most important influences on an individual in society. In society, we use symbols to help us further understand and relate to one another as each symbol carries a shared meaning. There are various key symbols used in society for example language. According to theorist name Goffman, the world is a stage, and individuals perform an act to cater to different audiences every day. Also, according to Goffman individuals feel pressured to act a certain way to maintain the particular impression that they have worked so hard towards.
Description of the similarities and differences between functionalism and social internationalism:
A similarity between functionalism and symbolic interactionism is the fact that both of these sociological theories contain various ideas which help to provide a further understanding and explanation of human society and how and why it works. Both of these theories study and examine the society in order to gain more insight into the reasons behind the way humans behave. Each theory aims to deepen our knowledge of socialization and figure out how it allows for society to function and also how different individuals interpret situations through socialization.
A difference between functionalism and symbolic interactionalism is the fact that functionalism is an example of a macro perspective which means that it focuses on larger-scale processes and looks at the issues faced as a whole whereas symbolic interactionalism is an example of a micro perspective which means that it focuses smaller scale interactions between individuals and their interpretation of their place in society. When these theories are compared to each other it is clear that different approaches are used to gather information and they are both conducted on very different scales.
Another difference between functionalism and symbolic interactionalism is the fact that functionalism focuses on society as a whole and its values and norms within certain groups in society and is focused on finding out why society works the way it does. However, symbolic interactionalism focuses on gathering information based on personal interactions between individuals in various social groups.
In conclusion, this report shows that sociology uses quantitative methods in order to study face-to-face human social interactions as well as large-scale social trends. Sociology uses both empirical and critical analysis methods in order to study human social interaction within society. Sociology uses both of these systematic methods which are empirical investigation as well as critical analysis to develop an understanding and gather knowledge about human social structure and activity. In this report, it was also found that the qualitative data found within sociology focuses on arriving at a deeper understanding based on how people talk about and interpret their actions. Within my report, I also touched upon functionalism, overall functionalism views ‘society as a system that is a set of interconnected parts which together form a whole’. The founder, a man by the name of Emile Durkheim suggested that social consensus takes one of two forms which are mechanical solidarity and organic solidarity. I also briefly touched upon social interactionalism, ultimately, the basic notion of symbolic interactionism is that human action and interaction are understood only through the exchange of meaningful communication or symbols. In this approach, humans are portrayed as acting. Symbolic interactionism studies meaning, and communication and they tend to use qualitative methods when conducting research. Ultimately, this report shows the different aspects of society and the approaches, methods, and studies used to show how society is made up and why it functions the way it does. This report also determined how these approaches and theories work in different areas of society.