Explain how each of the three major theoretical paradigms discussed in this section (structural functionalism, symbolic interactionism, and conflict theory) might be used in looking at the issue of inequality and share some examples.
Structural functionalism is the idea that parts of society function to provide the needs of the people and organisms living within it. For example, the bad behavior of criminals works to provide police with work to do. This of course ignores things like racial bias that are involved in many police interactions. Symbolic interactionism is the idea that society results from the many small actions of all the people within it. For example, criminals are looking down upon even after they serve their time because people have “learned” that criminals are bad and dangerous. The actions of law makers have allowed people to legally discriminate those who have been in jail, by denying them food stamps, housing, and jobs. Conflict theory views society as a push and pull between those with varying degrees of privilege. For example, those of color tend to be more easily viewed as criminals by law enforcement.
Using the sociological imagination, how might one explain the personal trouble of experiencing an eating disorder?
A common eating disorder among young females is anorexia. Young women feel pressured by peers and the media to be thin because it is considered beautiful. They may then influence their own peers to strive to be thin as well. Society influences them, but then they can influence others in society.
How can sociological theories be beneficial when studying various groups or institutions within a society? Provide some examples which support your claims.
They can help people study various groups because they offer the researcher different lenses to view a society. Viewing a society from multiple angles can help one better understand and get a fuller picture of what they are looking at. For example, in trying to understand a cult such as the KKK. While it may be hard to have compassion for a cult, forcing yourself to view their situation from multiple angles can help to understand why they felt threatened by people of color, and why they felt justified in their actions. Understand why they did those things does not mean you have to believe those things were moral or just.
Why is it so vital to follow ethical standards and guidelines when conducting sociological research? Can you think of a time when ethical guidelines were violated during scientific research? Please share some examples.
It is vital to follow ethical standards so that the research is not harming people. The goals of research should be to create better understanding of others, not harm others. For example, I learned about a Native American tribe who consented to their blood being taken to see what diseases they are susceptible to. However, the blood was used to trace their ancestry back to Asia. They did not consent for their blood to be used for that research. The findings conflict with their beliefs that they came from within the Earth of America. They were outraged to find that an article was published proving their heritage beliefs were wrong, with blood used against their will.