What is Sociology?
Sociology is the “study of human society.” For the examination, you need to know a number of concepts and terms used in the subject. There are three main areas you need to consider;
Social structures (e.g. the family, education, social stratification, etc.)
Social systems (e.g. culture and identity, agents of social control, etc.)
Social issues (e.g. the causes of crime, the impact of unemployment, etc.)
As you might expect of a social science, there are several explanations as to how we can best understand human society. The main theoretical perspectives covered in GCSE Sociology are;
The New Right
Functionalists believe that society can best be compared to a living organ, in which institutions and people all have a function to play with society. For example, the function of the family is to socialise children. Functionalist theorists include Talcott Parsons and Emile Durkheim.
Marxists believe that a capitalist society is characterised by a class conflict between the bourgeoisie (the owners of capital) and the proletariat (the working-class). In a capitalist economic system such as the UK, the bourgeoisie exploit the proletariat. Marxist theorists include Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx.
Feminists argue that society is dominated by men. In this patriarchal society men discriminate against women in order to prevent males and females gaining equal rights. There are various strands of belief within feminism; such as radical feminism, liberal feminism and Marxist feminism. Feminist theorists include Germaine Greer and Ann Oakley.
The New Right
Sociologists who take a New Right perspective believe that traditional roles within society have been undermined by the permissive values of the 1960s and 1970s. They argue that the nuclear family is the bedrock of society, and that the welfare state creates a dependency culture. New Right theorists include...