8 Jan 2023


The Sociological Perspective: Definition, Theory & Examples

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The sociological perspective is the approach that is applicable in building the link between human behavior and the society by placing the theories and assumptions of human behavior within the broader context of the society. This implies that the social perspective is the sociological study of the life of human beings and the how human beings fit into social interactions. The social perspective looks at how the social interactions shape groups of people who are interrelated and those groups are normally known to for the society. The perspective veers through the understanding of the society as a product that is formed by human beings and how the human beings can manipulate the social constraints to fit the common norms that define ethics within the social existence. The major sociological perspectives that shape the social interactions between human beings include symbolic interactionism, functionalism as well as the conflict theory. 

When studying the sociological perspective, sociologists aim at elucidating the perspective on human behavior and the connection of this perspective to the society as a broader functionality of the human nature. This means that the social perspective is the basic insight of sociology, which defines how the human behavior can be formed and manipulated to fit the social groups to which these people belong and how the social interactions take place between these groups. The social perspective gives a forum for understanding of who we are and how we behave the way we behave because we belong to a particular society at a specific space and time. It is with the social perspective that we can understand how people tend to accept their social world without questioning to its nature. This implies that the social perspective enables people to see the society as a temporary creation that is made by human beings and thus the same society can be changed by the human beings as well. It is thus with the sociological perspective that human beings are invited to look at the known surroundings in a fresh way, where they are encouraged to take a new perspective of the world that has always been taken for granted and thus it aids in the examination of the social environment with the curiosity of belonging to an exotic foreign culture. 

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Methods used to study the society 

Sociologists put the social phenomenon in different levels, while the study of the society is put in different perspectives. The analysis of the social phenomena spans from concrete interpretations to the sweeping of generalizations of the social being coupled with the social behavior. This means that sociologists study the society from the very specific events, which is termed as the analysis of minute social patterns at a micro level to the study of the broader perspective, which is basically the analysis of the larger social patterns at a macro level of understanding of these social trends. 

In the contemporary understanding of the society, sociologists make the application of the theoretical perspectives or paradigms, which are essential tools that give a social orienting framework. This implies that at a philosophical position, sociologists make use of the symbolic interactions perspective, the functionalism perspective and the conflict theory as major paradigms used for understanding of the social interactions within the society. Symbolic interactionism emphasizes on the symbolic meaning of the social interactions with which human beings develop. This theory examines the understandings that people impose on their daily events, the behaviors evident and the surrounding objects. On the other hand, functionalism theory looks at how each part of the society functions to contribute to the stability of the society as a whole. Consequently, the conflict theory looks at how power can influence the social order, where those in power are capable of maintaining the social order by way of dominance. 

Survey research 

Survey research is a method of research where the researcher picks a sample of respondents from specified populations and seeks to get responses through administration of standardized questioners. The questionnaire is referred to as the survey, which is documented in written form and completed by the respondent or a face to face interview, where the researcher fills the questionnaire appropriately in relation to the research question. The survey may also be a telephone interview or an online questionnaire, where the respondent gives the views in relation to the data being researched. The respondent may be at the jurisdiction of filling in the questionnaire or the researcher may find the answers from the respondent and fill them indirectly. For a sociologist, survey research may be vital in understanding the population trends within different social groups. 


Interviews are conversations where the researcher asks the questions, while the respondent gives direct answers. An interview is a one on one conversation between the researcher and the respondent or a one on one conversation, where one person acts as the interviewer while the other acts as the interviewee. In the normal function, the interviewer asks the questions while the interviewee responds to the questions, where the system of information transfer takes place in both directions simultaneously. The conventional system of understanding of interviews was a face to face and in person. However, modern technology and communication systems like the internet have allowed for communication between people based on varied geographical backgrounds. For instance, the current system of communication between the interviewer and the interviewee involves telephone conversations and video conferencing, where both parties communicate without the visual contact. A sociologist may interview a population on the social conflicts to understand the social orientation of a social group. 

Participant observation 

Participant observation is a method of data collection, whose major aim is to build familiarity with a given group of individuals ranging from religious groups, occupational groups to sub cultural groups, where the researcher aims to gain an understanding of the social practices through intensive involvement with these social groups. In this case, the researcher aims at spending extended periods of time, where he or she can be able to give responses to the questions of research through articulations with the answers as opposed to interviewing the respondents. In this case, the researcher becomes oriented to the facts surrounding these groups to the level that he or she is able to respond to the research questions without having the need of a second party. Participant observation is important for a sociologist, where the researcher becomes a participant responded to the research questions through observation of the trends within the social groups over long periods of time. 

Secondary/historical analysis 

In secondary analysis, the researcher makes use of data that was collected by someone else other than the current user. These include the application of documented evidence that can aid the researcher into building cohesion between the facts that exist and the response to the current questions. Historical analysis seeks to address the systems of obtaining data from sources such as censuses, information given by the governmental departments, records from organizations and other forms of research that were done before the current research. In this method of data analysis, the researcher uses existing evidence to give solutions to current problems, where the point of reference is research that has already been proved and documented. The best application of secondary or historical analysis in the field of sociology is the use of census records in determining the population trends among societies. 


Allan, G. A. (1989). Friendship: Developing a sociological perspective . Westview press. 

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