Differences Between Structural Functionalism and Symbolic Interactionism

Differences Between Structural Functionalism and Symbolic Interactionism

Differences Between Structural Functionalism and Symbolic Interactionism

This week, you read about the major theoretical perspectives in sociology (functionalist, conflict, feminist, queer, and symbolic interactionist).

Write an essay defining and interpreting each perspective. Paraphrase each perspective, using your textbook as a resource. Do not copy the definitions from the text, but rather paraphrase in your own words and provide citations in APA format where necessary. Additionally, briefly explain the importance of the perspectives to the field of sociology.

Your essay should be 1–2 pages in length. Compose your essay in APA format with a title page, introduction, conclusion, and references section. Cite at least one scholarly reference in APA format. An abstract is not necessary

The main difference between functionalism and symbolic interactionism is that functionalism looks at society as a complex system whose components work together to promote unity and stability whereas symbolic interactionism looks at society as a social construct that relies on human interpretations.

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Differences Between Structural Functionalism and Symbolic Interactionism
Differences Between Structural Functionalism and Symbolic Interactionism

Functionalism and symbolic interactionism are two major theoretical paradigms that analyse society and its structure. These two paradigms view society from different perspectives. Functionalism is a macro-level framework as it looks as society as a whole, whereas symbolic interactionism is a more micro-level framework as it looks at individual interpretations.

What is Functionalism?
Functionalism or structural functionalism is a framework for the sociological theory that sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability. In other words, functionalism looks at each part of the society in terms of function and how it contributes to the stability of the whole society. According to this theory, all parts of society are dependent on each other. These different parts usually refer to various institutions in society, which fulfil different needs of people; each of these has a particular role and contribute to society as a whole.

Early sociologists like Herbert Spencer used the analogy of a human body to describe society. According to these theorists, understanding any organ in the body involved an understanding of its relationship to other organs and its contribution towards the maintenance of the organism. Similarly, if we want to understand a particular part of society, we need to analyze its relationship to other parts as well as its contribution to the stability and solidarity of society.

According to my own worldview opinion, spirituality would be a higher functioning and intentional and intelligent energy in the metaphysical that has a connection to the origin of creativity and theoretical function of life in time space for a specified period. “Spirituality offers a worldview that suggests there is more to life than just what people experience on a sensory and physical level” (Scott PhD, 2022, paragraph 2). I feel there is social pressure to align with different worldviews to have a sense of belonging or to be accepted by certain groups. I think everyone could be wrong and right. Perhaps it is plausible that the collective ideas and theories may all have a little bit of truth in each one. What is truth, relatively speaking, when each of us experience reality in a way that is unlike any other person? I think I do not know enough or have not developed enough about personal spirituality to have a fixed idea about it. What I believe right now is subject to change with the influx of new information, however it may come. My conception of spirituality is more fluid, curious and one of open-mindedness. I think this will help me in rendering nonbiased care that is free of judgement. Staying curious is a self-teaching aid to help me digest things that may or may not make sense to me logically on a personal level. What I can understand about patients and their belief is there is a correlation between religious beliefs or spirituality and positive health outcomes. So, it is very important to respect a patient’s preferences and incorporate them into their care. Sometimes the difference between positive and negative health outcomes is a patients belief system when medical professionals have done and are doing everything to provide the highest quality of care available. “The question of whether truth, ethics and morality transcends individual, cultural and historical boundaries never gets satisfactorily answered (KUMAR, 2004, page 2).


KUMAR, K. (2004). SPIRITUAL CARE. Journal of Christian Nursing21(1), 24–28. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.cnj.0000262275.10582.66

Scott PhD, E. (2022, August 19). Spirituality Can Improve Many Aspects of Your Life and Health. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-spirituality-can-benefit-mental-and-physical-health-3144807#:~:text=Spirituality%20offers%20a%20worldview%20that