Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology

Sociologists examine social occurrences at varying extents and from diverse standpoints. From actual understanding to an extensive overview of society and social norms, sociologists analyze all perspectives from specific experiences to the big picture. There are three primary theoretical perspectives used in sociology and include the functionalist perspective, the conflict perspective, and the symbolic interactionist perspective (Thompson, Hickey, & Thompson, 2016).

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Other major theoretical perspectives employed by sociologists encompass the feminist perspective and the queer perspective. All the major theoretical perspectives in sociology provide paradigms for elucidating the influence of society on people, and vice versa.


The functionalist perspective affirms that all the aspects of society are mutually dependent and have a crucial role to play in the entire functioning of the community. For instance, parents are reliant upon schools for the proper education of children, which enables them to acquire well-paying jobs, raise their own families, and contribute to the development of the nation. Where a failure occurs, the aspects of society have to adapt and evoke a new order, constancy, and productivity (Thompson et al., 2016).

The functionalist perspective is important as it endeavors to understand how society is held together by cohesion. It also asserts that members of the community have to work jointly to realize what is best for every one of them.

The conflict perspective focuses on the unconstructive, conflicted, and changing nature of society. Conflict theorists affirm that unequal elements often have incompatible ideals, which make them compete against each other; for example, the rich and mighty compel social order on the underprivileged and weak. The conflict perspective is important in sociology as it challenges the state of affairs and promotes social order even when this necessitates revolution (Thompson et al., 2016).

The feminist perspective employs the conflict approach and seeks to comprehend the level of gender inequality while evaluating the social positions, experiences, and welfare of women. While offering an analysis of social interrelations, the feminist perspective also centers on the assessment of gender inequality and support of the interests of women (Cannon, Lauve-Moon, & Buttell, 2015).

Its significance in the field of sociology lies in the attempts to eliminate oppression of women and generalizations concerning gender and sex. The queer perspective presents feminist challenges and lesbian/gay issues. It builds on lesbian/gay studies to include all sexual acts and identities that fall under deviant and normative groups. The queer perspective is crucial in sociology as it evaluates the concerns of homosexuality with the aim of placing the peculiar attention to a historical framework and construing current arguments both against and in support of latest terminologies.

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The symbolic interactionist perspective explains how people attach significance to symbols and act in line with their subjective understanding. The perspective offers serious thought to people’s actions while seeking to establish the sense that they allot to symbols, their practices, and actions of others (Thompson et al., 2016). The importance of the symbolic interactionist perspective to the field of sociology rests in its consideration of symbols and occurrences of daily life and comprehension of how people interrelate.


The field of sociology evaluates social incidences at different extents and from varied standpoints. The major theoretical perspectives employed in sociology include the functionalist perspective, the conflict perspective, the symbolic interactionist perspective, the feminist perspective, and the queer perspective. All the theoretical perspectives present paradigms for explicating the influence of people on society, and vice versa.


Cannon, C., Lauve-Moon, K., & Buttell, F. (2015). Re-theorizing intimate partner violence through post-structural feminism, queer theory, and the sociology of gender. Social Sciences, 4(3), 668-687.

Thompson, W. E., Hickey, J. V., & Thompson, M. L. (2016). Society in focus: An introduction to sociology (8th ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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