SOC101: Unit 1 Discussion


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.

  1. Structural Functionalism sees society as a structure with interrelated parts designed to meet the biological and social needs of the individuals in society. It can be used to look at the issue of inequality in society by looking at why the inequality exists. It might say that peoples social needs are not being met by society and why they are not being met.
    Symbolic Interactionism sees society as the result of many individual and every day interactions. It could be used to look at inequality by how people treat each other every day. How people treat each other may relate to inequality because they are not having positive interactions.
    Conflict Theory sees society as a place for conflict base of inequality. Inequality happens because of conflict between people and that is how society is, such as wars. We are at conflict and have inequality because that is how society functions.

  2. A person may explain the trouble of an eating disorder by explaining how it effects their body. They might also cite conventional views on beauty in Western society and that they want to fit that mold no matter the cost. A person could explain all the health issues that also come with it but may easily dismiss them if they are getting the results that they want to see.

  3. Sociological theories can be beneficial when studying various groups or institutions because each group is different. They may have to look at different theories to choose which one is most beneficial when studying a group. Such as using symbolic interaction theory to look at society on a micro level to see why society as a whole functions as it does.

  4. It is vital to follow ethical standards and guidelines so as to not corrupt the data being collected. It is also important so that the research methods can then be used once again.


Unit 1 Discussion

Inequality can be seen in various school systems . For example, a student’s parents may be of a lower socioeconomically background and have to work more hours to make ends meet. This could mean having less time to help their child with school work for school, causing the child to get poor grades.

Conflict Theory
Conflict Theory is focused on inequality in many aspects of society. For example, some businesses make huge net profits while deciding not to supply their hard workers with the overtime or benefits they deserve.

Symbolic Interaction
Inequality can be seen on a smaller, micro scale when it comes to this theory. Teens are focused on important meaning to expensive clothing items, like sneakers. If a teen from a lower socioeconomic background isn’t able to afford such items, they’re often excluded from the group of more affluent teens.

Sociological imagination is the ability to understand how your own past relates to that of other people, as well as to history in general and societal structures in particular. An eating disorder could be caused by other people in society or by work-related pressures that result in stress. It can also be a result of the pressure by media that advertise certain body types as favorite. It can result from chronic/depression or other psychological illnesses, or any other difficult living situations

Sociological theories. It is easier to understand a group’s intentions when you know why.
When studying institutions in an inner city from a structural-functionalist stance, you may find that there is a lack of dynamic equilibrium. Racism and class struggle still run rampant among specific populations, such as African-Americans and the police force.
On a micro level, symbolic interaction theory would help you understand why individuals deviate from the norm and defy social constructs. Being familiar with this theory would be beneficial when interviewing people in the prison system one-on-one to understand their motives to commit crime.

It is vital to follow ethical guidelines so that participants are informed, safe, and free to be honest without a researcher’s bias modifying the research results. Confidentiality is important when gathering data, even if the police request personal information from research participants. Researchers have to maintain value neutrality when presenting their findings.
Ethical guidelines were violated during the scientific research of the Milgram Experiment. There was no regard for the well being of the subjects during or after the upsetting experiments.