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Conflict theory
symbolic interactionism
Since the early years, sociology has expanded dramatically. Many different
theories about why humans behave the way they do have developed. There
are three main approaches or perspectives to the scientific study of human
behavior that still exist today. Each perspective emphasizes different
topics of investigation and has different techniques.
The different theories to some extent contradict each other. The fact that
they don’t agree is all right, however, since we don’t have anything close to
the final answers about human nature. So, each of them is a good guess with
some support but not the last word. Sometimes one theory will fit a
particular situation where another might not. So, while most sociologists
tend to lean toward one of the three approaches, they often make mixtures
of the theories to help them be the best they can be.
1. Read pages 24-30 in your textbook. Take notes. Be thorough and complete.
Use your own words.
2. Prepare a visual metaphor to represent the Three Perspectives you read
about and took notes on. The goal for you is to create a poster that
is a metaphor of the perspectives. Chances are that if you took a lot of
notes then your poster will contain a lot of information once it is finished.
3. Do a good job!! These pictures will be left up in the room to serve as cheat
sheets throughout the year! Plus, these perspectives are one of the most
important concepts in Unit 1! In addition, your colorful poster will help
decorate our room!!!
Essential Information for EACH of the three perspectives:
1. The definition in YOUR OWN WORDS of the perspectives. Basically you
are describing how this group of sociologists views the purpose of sociology.
2. An example of how this perspective is actually used in sociological study
3. A list of the leading sociologists in this particular “school.”
4. How this perspective has changed or shaped the sociological world. What
has this “school” contributed to the field of sociology – techniques, theories,
practices, etc… How has it changed or affected the way we think and
Example: You could draw a huge three colored rainbow on your poster. Each color would
represent one approach. At the bottom you would write your metaphorical phrase . . . “The
Three Approaches to studying behavior are like a rainbow because . . . each color is needed to
complete the beautiful prism just as each perspective is needed to truly understand the
complexities of human behavior.”
This collaborative image would allow you to use each color to represent one of the
perspectives. Important facts and definitions could be written in each color. Everything having
to do with conflict theorists could be done in blue, functionalists in green, etc…The pot of gold
would represent the combination of approaches in order to understand human behavior.

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