Sociological Frameworks


Sociology is about understanding patterns of behavior.

But how do you "begin" trying the understand any particular pattern of behavior?

Answer:  You have to make assumptions about the nature of society or human beings.  These assumptions will allow you to collect information, put it into a "framework," see generalities.

Have all sociologists agreed that one set of assumptions is the best approach to understanding patterns of behavior?

Answer:  No.
Groups of sociologists -- you could call them "schools" -- have found different sets of assumptions most useful for understanding patterns of behavior.

Below are four of the most prevalent "ways of doing sociology" current today.
 
 
 
 
 

Four Sociological Frameworks
Two "macro" frameworks -- used to understand how whole societies 
change over time.
"Macro" Frameworks: Key Concepts:
Structural-Functional
Framework
Society is a "system"

"Institutions" are the parts of the social system

Study institutions and how they relate to each other.

Conflict
Framework
(Feminist Variant)
Society is a collection of classes (genders)

Conflict and change are to be expected

Look for "contradictions"

Two "micro" frameworks -- used to understand how real groups 
of individuals behave.
"Micro" Frameworks: Key Concepts:
Exchange
Framework
individuals seek to minimize pain and maximize pleasure

relationships can be understood by uncovering what both parties are giving and getting 

Symbolic-Interaction
Framework
individuals are "symbol" manipulators

understanding behavior entails uncovering its symbolic meaning for the actors


 
 



 
 

Structural Functional Framework




Basic assumptions:

An example of structural-functional analysis

Explain the change in the number of births average American women have experienced.
 
 

US Births per Woman:  1800-1998
Year
# of Births
1800
8
1900
4
1998
2



 
 

Conflict Framework

 




Basic assumptions/concepts:

An example of conflict (feminist) analysis

Explain the increased political and economic power of women in American society throughout the 20th century.