Using that shape society. Action theorists are more

Using sociological concepts (socialisation, social order and
social stratification) and theories (consensus, conflict and social action),
explain the relationship between the individual and society.

Social action theories adopt a
micro-sociological approach because they take their starting point as the
individual. They study how individuals interact with each other in small social
groups. Action theories place a large emphasis on these interactions and the
meanings behind them. In turn, they believe it is the interactions between
individuals and groups that shape society. Action theorists are more generally
concerned with small-scale interactions rather than social trends, and try to
understand and interpret the meanings that people place on these interactions. (Haralambos
& Holborn, 2013)

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

Within society, there are specific
norms and beliefs which are generally shared and abided by most individuals. Without
these, society would be chaos and therefore it is important to maintain some
degree of social order. One example of a social action theory is socialisation.
Socialisation refers to the concept of learning and developing specific norms,
ideologies or informal rules that allow individuals to participate normally
within their own society. (Haralambos & Holborn, 2013) This process happens
without our conscious awareness and without a deliberate effort on anyone
else’s part. Primary socialisation is perhaps the most important aspect of this
process and it takes place during infancy. For example, children will learn
what is right and what is wrong when socially acceptable behaviour is rewarded,
and socially deviant behaviour is punished. They develop their social norms and
behaviours by imitating their parents’. When children start school, their
personalities develop through socialisation with specific peer groups. This is
known as group socialisation which plays a larger role in the development of
their behaviour in adulthood. (Haralambos & Holborn, 2013) However, socialisation
is a life-long process and is not confined to childhood. Humans continuously
need social experiences to adapt to and survive within their changing culture. Norms
specify the type of behaviour that is appropriate or acceptable in specific
situations and vary from society to society. In Britain, there are guidelines
for how to dress on particular occasions. For example, wearing the same clothes
to a wedding, going to the beach or working on a construction site would be viewed
as unacceptable. However, the “loincloths worn by the Bushmen of The Kalahari
would not be considered appropriate dress within Britain and other European
countries”.  (Haralambos & Holborn,
2013, p.5)  

Structural theories take a
macro-sociological approach and attempt to understand human behaviour by
looking at society first and studying the way it is structured. This
essentially means that structural theories believe that society shapes an
individual. These theories look at society as a whole which can effectively
explain how it changed over time. (Haralambos & Holborn, 2013)

is one of the major macro-sociological approaches. One major functionalist is
Talcott Parsons, who was particularly interested in how social order is
possible or how society remains relatively stable. Functionalism explores how
each individual part of society contributes to the stability of society as a
whole. Functionalists believe that there are connections between individual
parts of society which work together and contribute to the maintenance of the
whole of society. These individual parts of society are all made up of social
institutions which exist to accommodate different needs, each of which have particular
consequences for the form and shape of society. Some of these institutions
include family, government, economy, media, education and religion. (Crossman & Cole, 2017) Functionalism
believes that an institution within society is only relevant because it serves
a vital role in the functioning of society and will eventually die away if it
no longer serves a role. Therefore, if new needs ever emerge, a new institution
will be created to meet them. Functionalism emphasises the consensus and order
that exists in society, focusing on social behaviour and shared public values. Change
in the system, such as deviant behaviour, leads to changes in societal components
in order to achieve to stability. When one part of the system is not working,
it has an affect on the rest of the system and creates social problems which
leads to social change. (Crossman & Cole, 2017)

Social stratification is a
macro-sociological concept. It essentially describes how society is made up of a
number of social groups in a hierarchal way. 
Each group shares a common identity and a common lifestyle which
distinguishes them from members of other social groups and there are large
inequalities between those who sit at the top of the structure and those who
sit at the bottom. Each group enjoy or suffer the unequal distributions of
rewards in society as members of different social groups. Talcott Parsons
believed that social order and stability in society are based on value consensus.
He believed that “stratification systems derive from common values” (Haralambos
& Holborn, 2013, p.22) and that individuals are ranked; wherever they rank is
dependent on their values. (Crossman & Cole, 2017) For example, an individual who has
achieved society’s common values will sit at the top of the hierarchal
structure and be regarded as more successful than those who have not achieved
these values. In the United Kingdom, there is a lot of pressure put upon
students to attend university and earn a degree and those who do are generally
held in higher regard than a student who decided to go to college or straight
into work. Parson’s essentially tells us that if value consensus is an element
of society then the idea of this hierarchal social stratification is inevitable
due to the ranking of individuals based on their common values. Therefore, university
students deserve the rewards they achieve as they have worked hard for them and
society recognises that. (Haralambos & Holborn, 2013)

Conflict theories are different
from the consensus theory in the way that there are “fundamental differences of interest between social groups”. (Haralambos
& Holborn, 2013, p.11) These differences result in conflict becoming a reoccurring
element of society and not an issue that can necessarily be fixed. Marxism, founded
by Karl Marx is an example of a conflict theory which aims to provide answers
that functionalist theories do not. Marx believed that all societies have an
economic base which in Western countries, is essentially capitalist. In other
words, the whole system is in pursuit of wealth.  A capitalist system encourages people to
pursue wealth and prosperity which results in materialism, conspicuous
consumption and greed. Marx defines class by the ownership of property and material
items. There are two main classes within society: the bourgeoisie who own the
means of production and the proletariat who produce their own goods and services
and sell them for profit. (Rummel, 1977)  It is within
the bourgeoisie’s interest to pay the proletariat as little as possible to
increase profit for themselves, which inevitably creates a lot of inequality within
society. The objective behind this was for the ruling class, i.e. the
bourgeoisie to remain in power and preserve their privileged position. The
proletariat’s interest lies in overthrowing the bourgeoisie to create an egalitarian
society and increase their position within it. Marx believed that capitalism
will one day lead to workers revolting against the bourgeoisie to eliminate
further oppression and exploitation. Overall, the conflict theory emphasises
that society’s different groups have different interests which come from their
different social positions, which can sometimes lead to different views on
different issues. (Haralombos & Holborn, 2013)