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In the current essay I would like to consider the impact of sociological theories, such as Functionalism, Conflict, and Interactionism of mass media. In addition, I will provide information how each theory applies to the selected sociological institution and what the similarities and the differences between these theories are.
To begin with, it should be noted that sociological theory means “act of observing the world”. Today, it designates an intellectual construct that tends to link the largest number of observed phenomena and particular laws in a coherent chaired by a general explanatory principle of all things are considered. It should be mentioned that the general action system in sociological theories structure contains four subsystems: the biological or organic behavioral, cultural, social, and personality. The systems are an ordered set of elements, interdependent, that are open to the perception of variables that can modify them. According to Pamela J. Shoemaker, Elizabeth Kay Mayfield (2008), with the aim to maintain balance, they perform different functions:
The biological species is the organized type, adaptation is the function performed by the economic system.
The culture is the set of norms, values, language and symbols accepted by society. Its function is to maintain the guidelines, so that individuals confirm to role expectations and internalize the values.
In society, these functions are performed by various institutions, among them there are educational system and mass media, who are responsible for the dissemination of these norms, values, symbols, etc., which make up the cultural sphere. The primary function involves the integration and acceptance of goals and expectations. Legal entities are responsible for this function.
The personality is the set of motivations and orientations of action of individuals. Their purpose is the achievement of goals or purposes and they try to coordinate the motivation to achieve social objectives. Consequently, personality can be a channel for political institutions, which meet the aspirations of individuals.
Structural functionalism – is a methodological approach in sociology and socio-cultural anthropology, consisting in the interpretation of society as a social system with its structure and mechanisms of interaction between structural elements, each of which performs its own function. The founder of structural functionalism is a well-known American sociologist Talcott Parsons, who, in his research was based on classical concepts of Herbert Spencer and Emile Durkheim. The basic idea of structural functionalism is the idea of “social order” that is immanent to any system striving to maintain a proper balance and reconcile the different elements of it to reach an agreement between them, according to Michael Hughes (2009).
However, this theory has several disadvantages, mainly because Parsons underestimated the role of conflict, moreover, he excludes them. As a fact, in Parsons’ theory there is no development of evolution. Also, Parsons has limited functions of social subsystems by four, which, in his view, was sufficient for the survival of the system as a whole, there is a fair question about the necessity of the existence of other functions inherent to society and in some way affect its ability to live. Moreover, critics of functionalism in American sociology – C. Wright Mills and Alvin Gouldner, reported about too complicated language of Parsons and scholasticism theory. They also demonstrated the practical impossibility within Parsons’ version of functionalism to describe the significant social transformation, since it may have a conflict of interests of different social groups is reduced to a minimum.