Sociology as a discipline has been defined differently by various researchers. In this respect, Price & Simpson (2007) define sociology as a study that evaluates the relationships, norms and values of human being in the society. According to Somerville (2011), sociology is systematic study that analyzes the various aspects of human groups. Additionally, sociology equips us with the foundation for understanding the way our society operates, including how the social norms, values and institutions influence the lives of people. It also enlightens the problems people encounter in the process of social interaction. Basically, studying sociology helps people get insights and understanding of how they associate with each other through the control of social institutions. This study also aims to define how the social organizations and multi-faceted culture affect people’s way of living. Generally, the scope of sociology as a discipline varies from individual life to communal life, from poverty to wealth, from class stratification to common beliefs and culture. Studying sociology is important in a number of ways. First, it enables individual to have a new view of the universe. For instance, although in some places individualism is embraced, people tend to overlook the fact that the behaviour and feelings we possess are socially generated. Secondly, sociology enables people to achieve freedom by the means of being fully responsible for their lives.
In general, there are three major sociological perspectives. These include symbolic interactionism, functionalism and conflict theory (Cunningham & Cunningham 2012).
Symbolic Interactionist Perspective
Symbolic interactionist perspective, also referred to as symbolic interactionism, is a micro analysis that deals with the symbol and the daily activities. Basically, the symbolic interactionism evaluates the meanings of various existing symbols and describes how these symbols are used by people while interacting (Dickens, 2010). The symbolic perspective was introduced to American sociology by a sociologist called George H. Mead. However, his idea was based on the theory of Max Weber which stated that human behaviour is influenced by the meaning of the universe. In terms of analysis, the symbolic interactionist perspective suggests that people give symbols different meaning, and then make their personal interpretation. For instance, in the case of verbal conversations, the spoken words are considered to be symbols. We can draw a following analogy owing to the observation of a person’s discourse. The sender endues the words with particular meanings, and they are expected to maintain the meaning to the receiver on the other side of conversation.
The Functionalist Perspective
The functionalist perspective is a macro analysis that suggests that the various elements of society are inter-related, and all of them have an impact on the society’s functioning (Lister, 2010). For instance, in a typical society, the government enables families to take their children to school. Consequently, the family pays taxes to the government to facilitate the process of education. Basically, functionalism suggests that society is connected with social cohesion, in which individuals agree to cooperate with each other in order to attain their goal.
The Conflict Perspective
Accordingly, this perspective views society in the light of negativism and evil. The perspective involves a macro analysis of the various sociological aspects. This perspective is opposite to the other two perspectives. For instance, differently from the functionalist perspective that advocates for cooperation of people and the state, as well as their interdependence, the conflict perspective advocates for people’s cooperation to oppose the state and to cause instability.
In conclusion, it is evident that sociology is the only study that analyses various sociological aspects of human being in the society. Such aspects include human interaction, institutionalism and individual behaviour among others. The three main sociological perspectives have been analysed. Symbolic interactionist perspective involves micro analysis while the functionalism and conflict perspective involves macro analysis of the society. While perspectives of symbolic interactionism and functionalism advocate for stability in the society, conflict perspective advocates for social disorder and clashes among the people and the state.