Social be chaos and therefore it is

Social action theories adopt a micro-sociological
approach because they take their starting point as the individual. They study
how individuals interact with each other in small social groups. Action theories
place a large emphasis on these interactions and the meanings behind them. In
turn, they believe it is the interactions between individuals and groups that
shape society. Action theorists are more generally concerned with small-scale
interactions rather than social trends, and try to understand and interpret the
meanings that people place on these interactions.

Within society, there are specific
norms and beliefs which are generally shared and abided by most individuals. Without
these, society would be chaos and therefore it is important to maintain some degree
of social order. One example of a social action theory is socialisation. Socialisation
refers to the concept of learning and developing specific norms, ideologies or
informal rules that allow individuals to participate normally within their own
society. This process happens without our conscious awareness and without a
deliberate effort on anyone else’s part. Primary socialisation is perhaps the most
important aspect of this process and it takes place during infancy. For example,
children will learn what is right and what is wrong when socially acceptable
behaviour is rewarded, and socially deviant behaviour is punished. They develop
their social norms and behaviours by imitating their parents’. When children start
school, their personalities develop through socialisation with specific peer
groups. This is known as group socialisation which plays a larger role in the
development of their behaviour in adulthood.  However, socialisation is a life-long process
and is not confined to childhood. Humans continuously need social experiences to
adapt to and survive within their changing culture. Norms specify the type of
behaviour that is appropriate or acceptable in specific situations and vary
from society to society. In Britain, there are guidelines for how to dress on
particular occasions. For example, wearing the same clothes to a wedding, going
to the beach or working on a construction site would be viewed as unacceptable.
However, the loincloths worn by the Bushmen of The Kalahari would not be
considered appropriate dress within Britain and other European countries.

Structural theories take a macro-sociological
approach and attempt to understand human behaviour by looking at society first
and studying the way it is structured. This essentially means that structural
theories believe that society shapes and individual. These theories look at
society as a whole which can effectively explain how it changed over time.

Functionalism is one of the major theoretical
perspectives in sociology. It has its origins in the works of Talcott Parsons,
who was particularly interested in how social order is possible or how society
remains relatively stable. It is a theory that focuses mainly on the macro
level of social structure rather than the micro level of everyday life. Functionalism
interprets how each part of society contributes to the stability of society as
a whole. Functionalists believe that that there is a relationship between all
parts of society and that together they all contribute to the maintenance of the
whole of society. No one part of society can function alone and if one
experiences a crisis or fails, then other parts must adapt to fill the void in
some way. Within functionalism the different parts of society are made up of
social institutions, each of which is designed to fill different needs and each
of which has particular consequences for the form and shape of society. These
parts all depend on each other. Some of the main institutions defined by sociology
include family, government, economy, media, education and religion. According
to functionalism, an institution only exists because it serves a vital role in
the functioning of society. If it no longer serves a role, an institution will
die away. When new needs evolve or emerge, new institutions will be created to
meet them. Functionalism emphasises the consensus and order that exists in society,
focusing on social behaviour and shared public values. Disorganisation in the
system, such as deviant behaviour, leads to change because societal components
must adjust to achieve stability. When one part of the system is not working or
is dysfunctional, it affects all other parts and creates social problems, which
leads to social change.

Social stratification means the way
in which society is made up of layers of social groups in a sort of hierarchal
way.  There are large inequalities
between those who sit at the top of the structure and those who sit at the bottom.
Each group shares a common identity and a common lifestyle which distinguishes
them from members of other social groups.  


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