Sociological theories become pertinent as they help to evaluate and analyse social changes and facilitate integration of the same within society. The application of sociological theories within the wider context of human interaction, greatly promotes development processes and helps widen the scope of human activities. This becomes especially relevant in the cases of social work that relies on the understanding of human behaviour and how theories can be exploited for the welfare of society at large. Sociological theory and their relevance within the society Sociological theories mainly use three approaches to define and analyse social behaviour: structural functional paradigm; social conflict; and symbolic interaction (Schaefer, 2007: 13). Structural functional paradigm uses macro factors to study social structure and identifies common social functions within society that promote stability and solidarity. Durkheim proposed that social values and religious guidelines underpin the division of labour and people exercise their choice based on moral duties and social responsibilities (Poggi, 2000: 107). Karl Marx is the key proponent of the theory of social conflict who had emphasised that division of labour and production of goods and services are intrinsically linked to social conflict. It promotes social stratification and capitalistic approach to wealth and economic development (Marx, 1990: 92). The bourgeoisie and proletariat are distinctly developed within society that contributes towards production. While bourgeoisie owns the means of productions, proletariats sell their labour, thus giving rise to power and inequity based on economic determinism. The theory has also helped to understand and explain the social stratification in terms of gender and racial inequality, class etc. Symbolic interaction studies the micro factors of society and looks at individual human behaviour as basis of social changes. The focus is on social interaction under specific circumstances and how the people become the major construct of societal paradigm. Max Weber significantly contributed to the theory of symbolic interaction by emphasising that social stratification is based on hierarchy in social structure and power differentials (Morrison, 2006: 159). The power invested on people within society becomes the crucial element for social stratification rather than economic paradigm that highlight division of labour. According to him, social hierarchy is distinct in its power structure and promotes different set of code of conduct for individuals. The stratification is based on varying degree of material benefits but gives opportunities to the workers for personal and professional growth, both in terms of power and economic returns. How the theoretical perspectives of sociology impact the social work and social policies Theories provide framework of principles which helps to understand the complex human relationships and how the environment or system can be used optimally for welfare interventions (Payne, 2005: 122). Social work has emerged as an important field within the broader spectrum of sociology. It is designed to redress the inequity and works for the welfare of marginalized population or segment of society. The theories are important facilitators for understanding human behaviour and environmental affects that bring about changes within social interaction and provoke social changes. Most importantly, theories help to understand situations and look at various
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Sociological theories and how they are applied in social work practice Introduction Sociology primarily deals with social evolutions and understanding of social structure, cultural paradigms and factors that influence social changes (Abercrombie, 2000: 333)…
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