How the three major sociological theories relate to marriage

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How the Three Major Sociological Theories Correspond with Marriage

Durrell Mast

Sociology 101

September 17, 2008

The three major sociological theories each have a different overall focus, and look at a situation from a different perspective. This is obvious by the different ways each theory looks at marriage.

The Structural-Functional theory studies groups of people or organizations in society, and looks for the events or other things that hold that group together. The question that fits this theory is, “What are the consequences of marriage for the operation of society?” By looking at the consequences of marriage Structural-Functionalists are looking at the most significant functions that hold a marriage together and make it work. There are many functions that hold together a marriage, but Structural-Functionalists study marriage from a macro or broad perspective. This lets them focus not on the less common functions that affect some marriages, but on the biggest, most important functions that affect nearly every marriage.

The Social-Conflict theory studies the differences in people, and the disputes and problems that are caused by this. Conflict theorists also study from a macro or broad perspective looking at the major trends of different ethnic groups’ roles and acceptance in society. The question that fits this theory is, “How does marriage benefit women and men unequally?” When this theory is applied, men are viewed as being superior to women. This creates conflict because the men are trying to maintain their power and women are attempting to seize more power. By studying the benefits that men and women receive from marriage, they are actually comparing men and women. They can then see the major conflicts this causes in a marriage.

The Symbolic-Interaction approach looks at a situation from the point of view of an individual that is in the situation, and what the individuals think and how they communicate based on the society they live in. The question that fits this theory is, ”What do people think marriage means?” They view a setting from a micro or close-up perspective. They view each setting or situation from the inside out, by studying the people that are in the situation and finding out how differences in society make people think differently about the situation. They also study how people act in a situation and the symbols or language they use according to how they have bin taught by the society they live in.

Each theory plays a different part in understanding the society we live in. When we look at a structure such as marriage using all three theories we can see the complete picture from every angle. This lets us understand a structure or group of people much better than if we just look at it from our own limited perspective.

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