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The Social Networking Sites Issue in Different Sociological Perspectives

I have chosen the social networking sites issue to describe in the three sociological perspectives, which are functionalist, conflict, and interactionism. Social networking sites allow us to connect with different people from all over the world. Analyzing this issue in the different perspectives can show us the role and importance in modern society.

The first perspective is functionalist. The functionalist perspective “…emphasizes the way in which the parts of a society are structured to maintain its stability.” (Schaefer, 2015, Chapter 1).  Social networking sites help bring different people together for different reasons from anywhere in the world. You can find old friends, make new friends, find relatives, or join groups to discuss certain subjects in different perspectives. This allows people to see how different cultures view things in ways that they hadn’t known about. There are also dysfunctions of these sites. Bullying, privacy issues, and the stealing or misuse of people’s personal information are just a few of the dysfunctions related to social networking sites. “A dysfunction refers to and element or process of a society that may actually disrupt the social system or reduce its stability.” (Schaefer, 2015, Chapter 1).

The next perspective is conflict. “The conflict perspective assumes that social behavior is best understood in terms of tension between groups over power or the allocation of resources…” (Schaefer, 2015, Chapter 1).  This perspective would suggest that social networking sites often reflect the conflicts and divisions that are in different groups of our society and reinforces the distance between genders, different races and ethnicities, and social classes rather than promoting harmony in society. “Currently, the discipline of sociology accepts conflict theory as one valid way to gain insight into a society.” (Schaefer, 2015, Chapter 1).

Last, but not least, we have the interactionism perspective. “Interactionism (also referred to as symbolic interactionism) is a sociological framework in which human beings are viewed as living in a world of meaningful objects.” (Schaefer, 2015, Chapter 1). This perspective suggests that people attach meanings to symbols and then act according to their subjective interpretation of these symbols. Analyzing how social networking sites contribute not only to shaping social behavior between members of society, but also to creating shared understandings of this same behavior is what interactionists seek out to do. In this perspective, interactionism seek to study social networking sites as a major and growing source of daily activity in many societies.

After looking at social networking sites in the three sociological perspectives, it’s very clear that they are all different in their own ways. In my opinion, the three perspectives show how each of them understands how social networking sites help people connect with others all over the world, as well as, see how society can be harmed by them

If the culture we learn influences our beliefs and behaviors, then culture is a key concept to the sociological perspective. Someone who grows up in the United States differs in many ways, some of them obvious and some of them not so obvious, from someone growing up in China, Sweden, South Korea, Peru, or Nigeria. Culture influences not only language but the gestures we use when we interact, how far apart we stand from each other when we talk, and the values we consider most important for our children to learn, to name just a few. Without culture, we could not have a society.

The profound impact of culture becomes most evident when we examine behaviors or conditions that, like kissing, are normally considered biological in nature. Consider morning sickness and labor pains, both very familiar to pregnant women before and during childbirth, respectively. These two types of discomfort have known biological causes, and we are not surprised that so many pregnant women experience them. But we would be surprised if the husbands of pregnant women woke up sick in the morning during their wives’ pregnancies or experienced severe abdominal pains while their wives gave birth. These men are neither carrying nor delivering a baby, and there is no logical—that is, biological—reason for them to suffer either type of discomfort

Functionalism The family performs several essential functions for society. It socializes children, it provides emotional and practical support for its members, it helps regulate sexual activity and sexual reproduction, and it provides its members with a social identity. Family problems stem from sudden or far-reaching changes in the family’s structure or processes; these problems threaten the family’s stability and weaken society.
Conflict theory The family contributes to social inequality by reinforcing economic inequality and by reinforcing patriarchy. Family problems stem from economic inequality and from patriarchal ideology. The family can also be a source of conflict, including physical violence and emotional cruelty, for its own members.
Symbolic interactionism The interaction of family members and intimate couples involves shared understandings of their situations. Wives and husbands have different styles of communication, and social class affects the expectations that spouses have of their marriages and of each other. Family problems stem from different understandings and expectations that spouses have of their marriage.



Schaefer, R. T. (2015). Sociology: A Brief Introduction.