What Is Meant By Social Science Paradigms? | Free Essay Example

What Is Meant By Social Science Paradigms?

Words: 578
Topic: Sociology

Social science paradigms can be defined as the frames and models according to which researchers can observe the world and make conclusions about the certain institutions, processes, and interactions within the society. As a result, social science paradigms are used in order to organize the researchers’ observation and reasoning and provide the ways to discuss different social theories (Babbie, 2014, p. 31). All the social science paradigms provide the researcher with the opportunity to look at the question from a different perspective while referring to various important aspects accentuated by the paradigm’s supporters (Babbie, 2014, p. 31; Gringeri, Barusch, & Cambron, 2013, p. 762). From this perspective, the most known and used social science paradigms are the conflict paradigm, symbolic interactionism, and structural functionalism.

The conflict paradigm is proposed by Karl Marx who states that the people’s behavior within the society is caused by the desire and intention to dominate and win or to avoid any type of domination. As a result, there is the social conflict because different people try to dominate, and the other ones are oriented to avoid domination. According to Marx, the most vivid example of the conflict is the inequality and struggle observed in the social and economic classes.

For instance, the conflict is always observed when the relations of the worker and capitalist are discussed (Babbie, 2014, p. 34). Many researchers refer to the conflict paradigm while discussing the relations between different departments in one organization or between the co-workers who take different positions in the company (Babbie, 2014, p. 35). Furthermore, the conflict developed between the representatives of the small groups where close relations are observed is often more obvious and intense because of the impact of feelings and emotions on the people’s interactions (Babbie, 2014, p. 35).

Symbolic interactionism is another way to discuss the social relations with the focus on meaningful social groups. Thus, in his researches, Georg Simmel concentrates on examining different types of groups to state that people create different meanings with references to their interactions. In this case, primary groups, including relatives and friends, can influence the people’s visions and attitudes more intensively (Babbie, 2014, p. 35). People are inclined to refer to the symbolic meanings and values while discussing different events and phenomena, and these meanings are influenced by the years of the people’s interactions with each other. Thus, the reality in which people live becomes socially constructed through interactions, and the people’s meaning about their personal features and qualities is also influenced by their interactions (Babbie, 2014, p. 35).

Structural functionalism is the paradigm based on the idea that the society develops as an organism that is why all its parts should function appropriately to contribute to the development of the whole organism (Babbie, 2014, p. 36).

As a result, all the social systems can be discussed as interdependent, and the action or function of one system should contribute to the effective progress of the whole society. That is why, much attention is paid to distribution of the functions in the society in order to control its activity as the activity of the whole organism. From this point, the functions of such social systems as family, education, and economy are interdependent, and the changes in one system lead to the changes in the other ones (Babbie, 2014, p. 36). The social systems can function appropriately only when such systems as police can perform the important function of the social control (Babbie, 2014, p. 36).


Babbie, E. (2014). The basics of social research. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Web.

Gringeri, C., Barusch, A., & Cambron, C. (2013). Examining foundations of qualitative research: A review of social work dissertations, 2008-2010. Journal of Social Work Education, 49(4), 760-773. Web.