Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology
Three Major Theoretical Perspectives
Among the three major theoretical perspectives in sociology, structural functionalism uses a macroeconomic approach, considering the society as an intricate, whole system in which the roles that parts play enable its own smooth functioning and stability. Therefore, in this case, a society can be visualized as evolving like an organism. The focus remains on social structure as well as social functionalities. The functionality of each of the organs or the parts of the society are crucial to the well-being of the entire society (Turner & Stets, 2005).
On the other hand, conflict theories are also focused upon the various social groups within the broad spectrum of a social political system, but tend to bring out the inequality (whether social, political or economical) among them. Therefore, the focus is upon differentials. In this way, conflict theory detracts from structural functionalism. However, conflict theory also is a macroscopic treatment of society. In essence, the conflict theory postulates that it is these differentials and the resulting power dynamics that cause for the society to evolve or grow.
As far as symbolic interactionism is concerned, the treatment of the economy is microscopic. This concept is allied with pragmatism, where the principal argument is that there is self centrism, purposefulness and creativity within any individual self, even though these “selves” happen to be social products. Therefore, interaction for people is what gives them meaning for life and things within life. Then, in order to pursue these things, people act deliberately.
It appears that my views are most congruent with those of Herbert Spencer, a noted proponent of structural functionalism. I believe that social evolution and social dynamics are a function of social groups, that cooperate to enrich and preserve society. This is because of the immense support that my dance group used to provided the town of Franklin. Over a number of occasions, the benign dance group has brought together warring parents, teachers under siege and kept students from being disciplined too harshly.
Qualitative and Quantitative Research
Perhaps the biggest advantage with quantitative research over qualitative research comes from the ability to conclude one way. As far as qualitative research is concerned, there are no statistics involved, therefore, no generalizations about the entire population can be made safely. Also, there is no ability to conclude in favor of an alternative. However, qualitative research does provide one with a basic understanding of the subject matter and a solid base to make decisions further. On the other hand, quantitative research allows one to make generalizations about the entire population, depending upon a factor of probability, and studying only a N sized sample. A final course of action can also be suggested (Ernst, 2003).
When it comes to techniques, qualitative research has unstructured or semistructured techniques, which will only go so far. For example, questions in an interview or the minutes of a group discussion can only be supposed to provide limited understanding. Data collection in a quantitative research is quite structured, for example, via the use of online questionnaires or phone interviews. Qualitative research also has a comparatively smaller sample size owing to the nature of the research, leading to inaccuracies. On the other hand, quantitative research usually has a much larger number of participants.
Finally, qualitative research is employed where the need is to gain insight into a trend, to understand the mindset and to formulate strategy accordingly. On the other hand, quantitative research is employed to primarily quantify data and to derive conclusions.
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