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How Sociological Perspectives Approach Social Problems Essay

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Updated: Jan 6th, 2022

Abstract

Modern societies face a lot of social problems; violence, family breakups and divorce just to mention a few. These problems affect the society in various ways and call for corrective measures. To solve a social problem, it is imperative for one to have a sound knowledge about the problem in question. There are three main perspectives that sociologists apply in an effort to understand social problems. Symbolic interaction, conflict and functionalism are the most popular perspectives used by sociologists. This paper discusses how the three sociological perspectives can approach the problem of family break ups in the society.

Divorce as a Sociological Problem

A family is a very important social unit in the society. All the values and attributes of a society generate from the families in that society. Families play extremely vital roles in the society. It is in the society that the values of love, care and responsibility become propagated. The parents in the family help in molding the children into hardworking and responsible individuals who can support the societal structures. The success of a family largely depends on the unity of its members. However, recent studies indicate that family breakups are on the rise. Family breakups are a threat to the society and in an effort to seek for corrective measures; the sociologists can employ the three approaches.

Sociologists can employ structural functional theory to understand this problem. The structural functional theorists view the society as a complex system that is made up of various organs (Anderson & Taylor, 2005). These organs perform distinctive roles, and the overall wellbeing of the society depends on how well the parts play their roles. These sociologists will view the family as a complex organ made up of various structures. These structures are parents and children. According to the structural-functionalist theorists, these structures have their roles to play in the family. The unity of the family will depend on how well the parents and the children play their roles. To investigate and understand this problem, the theorists will look into how well the structures execute their responsibilities in families that break up. Their assumption will be that family breakups are as a result of either the parents or the children failing to perform their tasks and responsibilities as expected of them. Indeed, most family breakups are as a result of the parents failing to meet their responsibilities. The society expects fathers to provide for their families. When they fail to do so, their families are likely to disintegrate.

To the conflict theorists, the members of a society are always at conflict with each other. The conflicts result from political, social or even economical inequality existing in the society. The conflicts are largely responsible for the observed family breakups in the society (Brinkerhoff, White, & Ortega, 2007). The conflict theorists will approach the social issue with an assumption that there are existing conflicts in the families. To these theorists, family breakups may be as a result of conflict between the parents and the children, between the children themselves and between the parents in a family. When the interests of the father conflicts with those of the mother, disunity is likely to be observed in the family (Levete, 2010). Conflict theorists argue that in a society members are not united, and they differ in several ways. Children from the same family may show a lot of variations. The differences can also lead to conflicts which may ultimately divide the families.

The symbolic interaction theorists argue that there are a lot of symbols in the society. The symbols include languages, gestures and objects in the environment (Anderson & Taylor, 2005). In a family, people may interpret symbols differently. An action or gesture done in good faith by one family member may mean something heinous to another family member (Harrison & Levete, 2009). This can cause conflicts in the family that may lead to breakups. The meanings that people attach to symbols depend on their social interactions in the environment. With the changing times, symbols are much likely to bear conflicting meanings to the parents and the children. In particular, a fashion held dear by a child may be highly detested by the old fashioned father. This may lead to conflicts which when not handled well may disintegrate the family.

References

Anderson, M. L., & Taylor, H. F. (2005). Understanding a diverse society. Florence: Cengage Learning.

Brinkerhoff, D. B., White, L. K., & Ortega, S. T. (2007). Essentials of Sociology. Florence: Cengage Learning.

Harrison, P., & Levete, S. (2009). Family Break-ups. London: Hodder Children’s Division.

Levete, S. (2010). Taking Action against Family Breakups. New York: Rosen Pub Group.

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