Theoretical Perspectives - Grayslake North High School


Theoretical Perspectives

Current Perspectives

A theoretical perspective, or a school of thought, is a general set of assumptions about the nature of things.


– theoretical perspectives outlines specific ideas about the nature of social life.

Symbolic Interactionism

Symbolic Interactionism

– focus on how on how individuals interact with one another in society. Particularly interested in the role that symbols play.

*Language highly significant form of symbolism (take for granted and do not question it) verbal and non-verbal

Symbols must be agreed upon by members of society.

Increase of divorce rate in terms of the changing symbols ( or meanings) associated with marriage and divorce.

- Example: Changes in ideas etc. have made marriage more fragile = divorce


Functional Analysis

Functional Analysis

– views

society as a set of interrelated parts that work together to produce a stable social system.

Most people agree on what is best for society and work together to ensure that the social system runs smoothly.

Example: Family has lost traditions etc due to industrialization and urbanization, outside agencies take on roles and have made marriage more fragile = divorce


Manifest Functions

– intended and recognized consequences of an aspect of society.

School = math skills

Latent Functions- unintended and unrecognized consequences of an aspect of society.

School = friendships

Dysfunctions: negative consequences of an aspect of society. Not all elements of society make a positive contribution.

Conflict Theory

Conflict Theory

– focuses on those forces in society that promote competition and change.

 society is composed of groups and individuals competing for scarce resources. These resources include: wealth, power, prestige, and privilege


Example: Men and women’s relationships have changed, women more likely to end marriages


Women have gained power.

Sociological Perspective: School


School integrates individuals into society by transmitting culture and values and promoting acceptable behavior.


School has established patterns of authority that reflect and underscore power relationships and conflict in society.

Symbolic Interactionist:

Social interaction among groups in school influences the way groups and individuals behave.