Compare and contrast two different perspectives in Sociology.
Sociological theories and perspectives aim to explain or understand the way in which society functions. Functionalism and Marxism are two different perspectives in Sociology. This essay will compare and contrast the perspectives of functionalism and Marxism, outlining their key points and evaluating their usefulness as a sociological approach.
Firstly we will look at Functionalism, which is fundamentally based on the works of Emile Durkheim (1858-1917). Functionalism is a structural based sociological theory, where societies are regarded as whole entities. Functionalists believe that all elements within society interconnect and work together. The main focus of functionalism is to examine and clarify exactly how social order is maintained within that society, looking at each part of society and understanding how their individual roles contribute towards society as a whole. It is believed that if one of these elements was altered or removed, then the system as an entirety would be affected, however the system is very capable at dealing with changes. “Society will always function in harmony, as it will accommodate change, by changing itself” (www.revision-notes.co.uk)
The sociological perspective, Marxism, is based on the ‘theory of class’ developed by Karl Marx (1818-1833), which attempts to explain how the social order has developed throughout different epochs. Marxists would describe our society as being capitalist and one of class domination, with Marxism emphasising the idea that social life is based upon ‘conflicts of interest’. The most essential and significant of these conflicts is that between the Bourgeoisie, those who own and control the means of production in society, and the Proletariat, those who simply rely on the wages from the bourgeoisie to survive, therefore “wealth is created by the Proletariat, then it is appropriated, that is ‘taken ...