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Sociological Theory

Much of what we know about societies and social behavior has emerged thanks to various sociology theories. Sociology students typically spend a great deal of time studying these different theories. Some theories have fallen out of favor, while others remain widely accepted, but all have contributed tremendously to our understanding of society and social behavior. By learning more about these theories, you can gain a deeper and richer understanding of sociology's past, present and future.
  1. Key Theoretical Concepts (4)

Critical Theory
Critical theory is a type of social theory oriented toward critiquing and changing society as a whole. It aims to dig beneath the surface of social life and uncover the assumptions that keep us from a full and true understanding of how the world works.

Feminist Theory
Feminist theory is one of the major contemporary sociological theories, which analyzes the status of women and men in society with the purpose of using that knowledge to better women's lives.

Sociobiology
Sociobiology is the application of evolutionary theory to social behavior. It is based on the premise that some behaviors are at lease partly inherited and can be affected by natural selection.

Structural Strain Theory
Social learning theory is a theory that attempts to explain socialization and its effect of the development of the self. It emphasizes the societal context of socialization rather than the individual mind and postulates that an individual’s identity is not the product of the unconscious, but instead is the result of modeling oneself in response...

Social Learning Theory
Social learning theory is a theory that attempts to explain socialization and its effect of the development of the self. It emphasizes the societal context of socialization rather than the individual mind and postulates that an individual’s identity is not the product of the unconscious, but instead is the result of modeling oneself in response...

Rational Choice Theory
Economics plays a huge role in human behavior. That is, people are often motivated by money and the possibility of making a profit, calculating the likely costs and benefits of any action before deciding what to do. This way of thinking is called rational choice theory.

Labeling Theory
Labeling theory is one of the most important approaches to understanding deviant and criminal behavior. It stems from the work of W.I. Thomas who, in 1928, wrote, "If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences."

Symbolic Interaction Theory
The symbolic interaction perspective, also called symbolic interactionism, is a major framework of sociological theory. This perspective relies on the symbolic meaning that people develop and rely upon in the process of social interaction.

Conflict Theory
Conflict theory emphasizes the role of coercion and power in producing social order. This perspective is derived from the works of Karl Marx, who saw society as fragmented into groups that compete for social and economic resources.

Functionalist Theory
The functionalist perspective, also called functionalism, is one of the major theoretical perspectives in sociology. It has its origins in the works of Emile Durkheim, who was especially interested in how social order is possible or how society remains relatively stable.

Social Exchange Theory
Social exchange theory interprets society as a series of interactions that are based on estimates of rewards and punishments.

Game Theory
Game theory is a theory of social interaction, which attempts to explain the interaction people have with one another. As the name of the theory suggests, game theory sees human interaction as just that: a game.

Chaos Theory
In the social sciences, chaos theory is the study of complex non-linear systems of social complexity. It is not about disorder, but rather is about very complicated systems of order.

Social Phenomenology
Social phenomenology is an approach within the field of sociology that aims to reveal what role human awareness plays in the production of social action, social situations and social worlds. In essence, phenomenology is the belief that society is a human construction.

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