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Theoretical Approaches of Social Structure

The social structure is the organization among individuals of a society or a group and it is determined by certain theories of coexistence that allow society to be a stable and functional figure. Theories explain the interaction between groups (macrosociology and microsociology). They also explain the activities that allow the balance within society (functionalism) and the differences that could generate conflicts (conflict theory). Other theories are: social constructionism, symbolic interactionism, rational choice theory and the social exchange theory.

Last updated: 8 Mar, 2022

Editorial responsibility: Stanley Oiseth, Lindsay Jones, Evelin Maza


Micro-sociology refers to everyday interactions among people who are face to face this is on a small scale Scale Dermatologic Examination. “The Cab Driver and his Fare” is one of the most famous study on microsociology, which was published in 1959 by Fred Davis. He spent six months working as a cab driver and noted down the interaction between him and the passengers traveling in his taxi. He observed that the interaction was really unique and short and every time it was different and repetition was rare.

He suggested that most of the interaction time was based on developing trust Trust Confidence in or reliance on a person or thing. Conflict of Interest between the driver and his passenger, whether the driver will take the passenger to exact destination and whether the passenger will pay and tip according to the ride or not. Interpretive analysis forms the basis on microsociology, this is contrary to the statistical or empirical observations.


Macrosociology refers to interaction on a large scale Scale Dermatologic Examination and at the level of the social structure. It also focuses on smaller groups such as families but in relation to the whole society or population in which they are living.

Microsociology vs Macrosociology

  • Microsociology deals at small scale Scale Dermatologic Examination while macrosociology deals with larger groups.
  • Symbolic interpretation is used in microsociology while statistical and empirical analysis is used in macrosociology.


In order to have a strong society, we need to have social equilibrium Equilibrium Occurs when tumor cells survive the initial elimination attempt These cells are not able to progress, being maintained in a state of dormancy by the adaptive immune system. In this phase, tumor immunogenicity is edited, where T cells keep selectively attacking highly immunogenic tumor cells.This attack leaves other cells with less immunogenicity to potentially develop resistance to the immune response. Cancer Immunotherapy. Every aspect of the society is related to each other. Different social institutions perform different functions and every institution is interrelated. Slow social change is acceptable but large change can destroy the social stability. According to this perspective, a social role bears more considerable importance to the society, the role automatic qualifies for a more significant reward.

This supports social stratification through the unequal value of the various role within the community; the notion that certain tasks or roles in society are of more value than others is created. Individuals that take up these roles, as well as positions, tend to be highly rewarded than others.


Image: “A Structural-Functionalist Understanding Understanding Decision-making Capacity and Legal Competence of Deviance” by Rcragun. License: CC BY 3.0

Conflict Theory

The conflict theory was proposed by Karl Marx. It proposes that society is based on status and power Power The probability that a test will correctly reject a false null hypothesis. Statistical Tests and Data Representation differences and the amount of resources are not equal and are distributed according to power Power The probability that a test will correctly reject a false null hypothesis. Statistical Tests and Data Representation and status thus creating a conflict in society.

The theorists tend to create awareness of the inequalities through arguments such asking how a rich neighborhood can have so many poor members. According to Marx, social division is because of people’s relationship Relationship A connection, association, or involvement between 2 or more parties. Clinician–Patient Relationship to production activities, that it is either an individual owned the factories or worked in one of them. Modern conflict theorists believe that stratification creates class conflict.

Major criticism of conflict theory includes:

  • Focuses on conflicts and not on stability that is expressed in society
  • Ignores non-forceful ways agreements can be reached
  • Focuses on economic drivers as main conflict within society

There is recent advancement in this theory which states that:

  • Societies have inequality and this can be changed by transforming existing relations and forming new ones.
  • The disadvantaged group has interests which once fulfilled will lead to social change.

By oppression and exploitation of the disadvantaged group, their creativity and abilities are suppressed, which are necessary in any society where there is unequal distribution of labor Labor Labor is the normal physiologic process defined as uterine contractions resulting in dilatation and effacement of the cervix, which culminates in expulsion of the fetus and the products of conception. Normal and Abnormal Labor.

Symbolic Interactionism

This is a micro-social approach and focuses on individual interactions and how they interpret those interactions. This explains that people do not merely rely on the roles that society has set for them instead they change them according to the situation present.

For example, shaking hands is considered as a symbol of friendship and greeting. This simple act of greeting indicates that the person is polite and has good manners. Now suppose if someone refuses to shake hands, this will be considered rude. On the contrary if the person has his right arm Arm The arm, or “upper arm” in common usage, is the region of the upper limb that extends from the shoulder to the elbow joint and connects inferiorly to the forearm through the cubital fossa. It is divided into 2 fascial compartments (anterior and posterior). Arm: Anatomy broken and does not shake hands than the other person naturally knows that he would be unable to shake hands in this case. As a result, he will make up his mind and will not consider that person being rude. Hence, an individual shapes his world according to realities rather than rules applied on him by the society.

Social standing influences how one interacts with others. Individuals are likely to interact with other who share a similar social standing. This tends to explain a society is divided regarding how people live, associate with others, their educational background, and their taste of lifestyle as well as their interest in life.

There are five central ideas behind symbolic interactionism:

  1. The human being is a social person. He needs to interact with others and this leads to what he does. Individual behavior is a result of social interaction. What we do today is a result of our interaction in the past life and our interaction today.
  2. Being human is the superior to all other creations because of the mind given to us. Thinking process and brain Brain The part of central nervous system that is contained within the skull (cranium). Arising from the neural tube, the embryonic brain is comprised of three major parts including prosencephalon (the forebrain); mesencephalon (the midbrain); and rhombencephalon (the hindbrain). The developed brain consists of cerebrum; cerebellum; and other structures in the brain stem. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification activities are happening all the time. Our attitudes are not only based on the interactions with others but also due to the continuous process of thought going on within us.
  3. Humans sense their environment according to the situation they are in and it is not the environment or the situation that really matters but it’s our own perception Perception The process by which the nature and meaning of sensory stimuli are recognized and interpreted. Psychiatric Assessment of the situation.
  4. Human action is the result of what is happening in the present rather than our past or the society. What we apply today is our current experience and knowledge.
  5. Human beings are active beings and terms such as conditioning and imprisonment cannot be applied to them in symbolic interaction. Human beings are actively involved in what they do.

Social Constructionism

Social constructionism can be defined as ideas that are created by the society based on interactions and are believed by that society as norm or something natural which may or may not be based on reality. Similarly that idea may not be prevalent in some other society and they may not accept itIt mainly focuses on the subject that how the societies construct their own social rules and norms based on reality.

Not necessary true in nature, but is involves both subjective and objective reality. Focuses on the social process rather than the biological process.

Rational Choice Theory

This theory states that an individual has the right of choice and he can prefer one thing over the other and the individual always chooses the thing that provides him with maximum benefit. It also states that it is not necessary that when the new choice is placed it will lead to change of preference rather its individuals own choice whether he wishes to stay with it or choose the new one.

Transitivity can be explained by the example that if an individual prefers A over B and B over C then he prefers A over C. This preference can be a strict preference, a weak preference or an indifference.

Rational choice theory

Rational choice theory

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Social Exchange Theory

This theory has roots in the economy and psychology as well. This describes as the social change that occurs between individuals due to social negotiations. This can be summarized in four points:

  1. Success Proposition: An individual tends to repeat his action if he is rewarded for his actions.
  2. Stimulus Proposition: It means that if an individual has been previously rewarded for an act, it is more likely that this person will respond to it in the future as well.
  3. Deprivation-Satiation: The value of the reward becomes less if that person has received that reward more often in the past.
  4. Costs and rewards: In a relationship Relationship A connection, association, or involvement between 2 or more parties. Clinician–Patient Relationship, both parties in social exchange rely on one another. The cost means the effort or the negative value the person has to put in, in order to maintain a relationship Relationship A connection, association, or involvement between 2 or more parties. Clinician–Patient Relationship and rewards means positive values such as companionship and acceptance.
Exchange choice theory

Exchange choice theory

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Feminist theory

The feminist theory covers the aspects of gender Gender Gender Dysphoria inequality and gender Gender Gender Dysphoria differences. This theory highlights problems and social aspects according to female point of view which are otherwise overlooked by the dominant male point of view. In the past women were identified as bodies and men were identified by minds due to which women were considered not equal to men, and in routine work men were considered more superior to women. Males were considered active while women were passive individuals.

Gender Gender Gender Dysphoria differences:

  • Socially created norms and expectations that are passed down
  • The qualities associated with femininity differ than those for masculinity
  • Assigned different gender Gender Gender Dysphoria roles

In our societies the gender Gender Gender Dysphoria roles have already been defined and that are passed down as such and due to this women are assigned different duties than men. Due to this gender Gender Gender Dysphoria inequality there is unequal distribution of labor Labor Labor is the normal physiologic process defined as uterine contractions resulting in dilatation and effacement of the cervix, which culminates in expulsion of the fetus and the products of conception. Normal and Abnormal Labor.Dominant themes in this theory include discrimination, sexual objectification, aesthetics as well as contemporary art.


  1. Fifty Key Sociologists: the Formative Theorists, John Scott Irving, 2007,
  2. Chodorow, Nancy J.,Feminism and Psychoanalytic Theory (Yale University Press: 1989, 1991)

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