Contemporary Theoretical Perspectives
Given the many and varied ideas and trends that influenced the development of sociology, how do contemporary sociologists view society? Some see it as basically a stable and ongoing entity; others view it in terms of many groups competing for scarce resources still others describe it based on the everyday, routine interactions among individuals. Each of these views represents a method of examining the same phenomena. Each is based on general ideas as to how social life is organized and represents an effort to link specific observations in a meaningful way.Each uses a theory-a set of logically interrelated statements that attempts to describe, explain. and (occasionally) predict social events. Each theory helps interpret reality in a distinct way by providing a framework in which observations may be logically ordered. Sociologists refer to this theoretical framework as a perspective-an overall approach to or viewpoint on some subject. Three major theoretical perspectives have emerged in sociology: the functionalist, conflict, and symbolic interactionist perspectives. Other perspectives, such as postmodernism, have emerged and gained acceptance among -some social thinkers more recently. Before turning to the specifics of these perspectives, however, we should note that some theorists and theories do not neatly fit into any of these perspectives.