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June 28, 2013 / C H Thompson

Social theory

The following links take you to pages which explain the various social theories used in sociology. The first link takes you to a basic overview of each theory, while subsequent links take you deeper into each theory. Once you feel comfortable with these ideas the following revision images are there to help consolidate your understanding.

Before you follow the links below it’s worth explaining what a theory is. A theory is a set of ideas which provides an explanation for something. For example standing at a bus-stop you might be developing a theory as to why your bus is late. A sociological theory is set of ideas which explains human society, for example why some people remain poor.

The trouble for some students is they come to sociology thinking there’s one single theory which explains everything- there isn’t. No one theory ever explains everything, therefore you have to learn to understand each theory and assess them as your understanding grows.

One useful place to start is to recognise the distinction between structural theories and social action theories. Once you’ve grasped that idea you then have to grapple with the difference between modern and postmodern theories – who said sociology was easy!

Structural

Functionalism

Marxism

Feminism

Social action

Symbolic interactionism

Postmodernism

Modernity

Postmodernity

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