Classic Theories of Sociology
August 24, 2018
Classic Theories of Sociology
Sociology as a subject, deals with different ways in which human beings interact with one another. Whereas there are numerous manners in which sociologists perform their work; there are three primary sociological theories that sociologists use to determine and evaluate the method by which human relations and interactions are affected. The three sociological theories that guide human interactions include; de Tocqueville’s theory of sociology, The Marxist theory and Emile Durkheim’s theory of sociology. The focus of this paper will be to discuss the three approaches in connection with the way they affect the sociology of a particular population. As sociologists point out, it will be essential to address the specific tenets of the application of the three theories as they relate to social phenomena and how it can be understood.
To begin with, the de Tocqueville approach to understanding social phenomena will be discussed. Tocqueville’s theory of sociology is seen as the primary precursor to modern sociology. In his thinking, de Tocqueville believes that a historical approach to understanding society is necessary for all measures. To understand society, de Tocqueville points out that historical contexts are the guides towards understanding phenomena in a particular environment. In the discovery of every pattern and difference in society, de Tocqueville’s approach can look at how certain aspects are identified and how it brings change to the status quo. Once a specific train of thought has been identified de Tocqueville’s theorists compare the historical happenings to the events taking place in every part of the society and how they come in together. The significant assumptions in this theory relate to the manner in which the application of rational choice principles is affected by how people agree to associate with each other.
Karl Marx’s writings pave the way for the evaluation of sociology. The theory originated from the writings of Karl Marx concerning classism and how racism and other social concepts affected the immediate environments in which we live. The Marxist theory is different from the functionalist approach and the symbolic interactionism approach which focus on humans and their interactions. The Marxist theory focuses on exploring the deep class conflicts within a society. According to Marxist understanding (Calhoun 74), the concept aims to describe how social transformations can change the nature of relationships among different social groups and individuals. Social change is the main idea in the conflict theory where the society complains about the uncouth ways in which social phenomena is carried out. For instance, the fact that a private school is increasing fees is self-serving is a belief many conflict theorists will agree with. Due to the different points of view that the theory allows, there is constant competition on various factors that must be run in a particular way. It competes that there is a continuous change happening on different facets of social life. The assumption in the Marxist sociological theory is that capital and labor are the primary motivators for human actions as are known today.
The third dominant classic theory of sociology is by Emile Durkheim who combines functionalism, the division of labor and capital, and organic analogy for the best discernment of social behavior in a particular society. In the functionalist approach, Durkheim avers that social facts should be explained concerning other social events. For instance, examining whether a specific action or set of activities constitutes a crime must be done so with the knowledge of how a crime is defined (Calhoun et al. 194). As egoistic human beings, Durkheim’s theory points to the reality that putting together the functional emblems of social peace requires an assessment of the different ways in which humans interact with each other. Within the practical approach, for instance, Durkheim avers that different individuals will always look at how their roles can be done without the interference of other social factors. If the interactions are considered, sociological aspects will be adequately understood. The assumption in Durkheim’s approach is that social facts must be explained regarding other social facts.
It should be highlighted that the theories under the consideration have similar notions, however, they also demonstrate some differences. For a better understanding of the above phenomena, it is essential to look at the connection between the three. One analogy that is synonymous in the three theories is the connection of human behavior to nature and location. For instance, all de Tocqueville, Karl Marx and Durkheim connect events to human behavior. The functionality, social-fact-connection, and the capital-labor distribution that the three authors talk of are similar in joining events to human behavior. The difference between de Tocqueville and Karl Marx is that while the former is forward-looking, the latter looks at situations and behavior based on the past.
Having discussed the sociological theories, it is prudent to assess which method explains natural phenomena in the best possible manner. Emile Durkheim’s theory comes as the best representation of explaining natural phenomena. For instance, Durkheim looks at the way in which social facts are related to others (Calhoun et al. 193). In addition, the theory looks at the manner in which different individuals describe to the way of social facts that they face on the regular. Causes and effects must explain each phenomenon around the environment. In the Durkheim theory, the focus is on how humans and the society at strong look at certain things. For example, it would be hard to understand the motivation behind a particular race being perceived in a precise manner. By explaining the interaction between races and gender, the symbolic interactionism theory comes off as the best theory to describe events and other human behavioral interactions.
In summary, the discussion of the different theoretical theories relates to the nature of human behavior as understood in current times. Sociological theories exist to aid in the understanding of the events and the motivations behind them. The three authors; de Tocqueville, Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim, discuss human behavior concerning history, set facts and conclusion on the way forward to human engagement. As egoistic humans, sociology as a subject of study will help understand the workings of politics, society and individual environments.
Callhoun, Craig, Gerteis, Joseph, Moody, James, Pfaff, Steven, Schmidt, Kathryn, and Indermohan Virk, editors. Classical Sociological Theory. Blackwell, 2002.