Sociologist Karl Marx

Category: Karl Marx, Sociology
Last Updated: 09 Jul 2021
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There are three major theories that depict how sociologists view the world. The theories are functionalist, conflict, and interaction theory. Each of these has its own viewpoints of how people affect society, and how society affects the people. Each theory has its own group of sociologist to go with it. The theory that a sociologist picks to back has an effect on how they do research and how they look at problems.

Structural Functional Theory

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The first theory is Structural Functional Theory, or functionalism. Functionalism is one of the oldest theories, and is still used today. In functionalism society is made up of different parts, and these parts work together to keep the society stable. Functionalism relies very much on the scientific method. By relying on the scientific method, the study of sociology can be observed in the same way one would view the physical world. In functionalism, change is said to happen when pressure is put on individuals by social structures.

Macro theories

This is what is known as a macro theory. Macro theories work from the society downward, the society forces the people to change, not the people change society. The next theory is conflict theory. In opposition to functionalism, when society exists in a state of balance and stability, conflict theory says that society is better described as existing in a state of constant struggle and conflict between two groups. Conflict theory has been growing it popularity since the late 1960s.

Many social and economical problems such as, civil rights movements, and political battles, have given prime examples of the conflict between the two groups, reinforcing conflict theory. Marx says there is a constant struggle between the haves, and the have-nots. In a capitalistic society, groups interact in a destructive way. They do this by the more powerful group exploiting the lower group in order to become more powerful. This is what causes the unbalance in power. The next theory is Interactionist or Symbolic Interaction Perspective.

Interactionist or Symbolic Interaction Perspective

This theory is different from the other two because instead of working from the society down in a macro prospective, it works from the individual up, in a micro prospective. Interactionists focus on the subject of human life at a personal level instead of at a social level. An interactionist wants to know what the person was feeling or how they were bothered by a particular situation. Society is made up of patterned and organized interactions on personal basis. Because of this the research done by interactionists can be done at a face-to-face level also instead of focusing on the group or groups within society. All interactions and reactions between individuals shape the way society works. An interaction can be any contact; this includes all language and symbols. This is because interactionists want to understand each individual in society, because understanding the individuals will show you how they shape society in the end. In conclusion, these different theories give sociologist a basis to work from. They do play a major role in the way a sociologist conducts research, or gathers information in other ways.

Not any of the three theories can be said to be correct in a whole, but sociologists can use all of them to better understand a situation and draw conclusions about it. The theories allow sociologists to develop different viewpoints and find the tendencies between them.


  1. Berlin, Isaiah, and Alan Ryan. (1996). Karl Marx: His Life and Environment. New York: Oxford University Press.
  2. Schaefer, Richard T. (2008). Sociology. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  3. Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy. (2008). Karl Marx. http://www. laspositascollege. edu/library/cited_APA_examples. php#anchorInternet

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Sociologist Karl Marx. (2018, Sep 06). Retrieved from

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