According to this perspective people attach meanings to the symbols and act according to their own understanding of these symbols. Functionalism explains that all the facets of society are interrelated and contribute to the functioning of society. This interrelatedness of the society serves to bring order and stability and if this is not achieved the society must adapt to the change in order to bring the desired order. Proponents of functionalism believe that the society is held together through unity and social harmony and members of the society hold similar values and beliefs. The conflict perspective focuses on the conflicting, pessimistic and dynamic society while challenging the status quo and encouraging the much needed social change. This perspective explains that the rich people are the ones who often force social change on the poor people in the society. The end result of the conflict theory is that the rich will exploit the poor people for their own personal gain (Conrad, 1999).
Conrad (1999) points out that conflict theory and the functionalist perspective are similar in the sense that both perspectives view the society as an important division of determining how people behave between themselves. These two perspective view humans as creatures in a certain social system and refers to the family as a worldwide representative of the society because it meets the basic functions of for the society such as controlling sexuality, reproducing new members of the society, providing the family members with their basic needs and shaping the young ones in to conforming to the society’s norms and values. The main contrast that exists between functionalist and the conflict theory is that functionalism views religion as a basis of unity and organization whereas the conflict theory views religion as a control mechanism that is applied by the powerful and