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 are perspectives in social science which emphasize the social, political or material
inequality of a social group, which critique the broad socio-political system, or which otherwise detract
from structural functionalism and ideological conservativism. Conflict theories draw attention to power
differentials, such as class conflict, and generally contrast historically dominant ideologies.

Certain conflict theories set out to highlight the ideological aspects inherent in traditional thought.
Whilst many of these perspectives hold parallels, conflict theory does not refer to a unified school of
thought, and should not be confused with, for instance, peace and conflict studies, or any other specific
theory of social conflict.

A common analogy for structural functionalist thought, popularized by Herbert Spencer, is to regard
norms, values and institutions as 'organs' that work toward the proper-functioning of the entire 'body'
of society.[1] The perspective was implicit in the original sociological positivism of Auguste Comte, but
was theorized in full by Émile Durkheim, again with respect to observable, structural laws. Functionalism
concerns "the effort to impute, as rigorously as possible, to each feature, custom, or practice, its effect
on the functioning of a supposedly stable, cohesive system",[2] and to this extent holds allegiance with
particular styles of political reasoning. For Durkheim, it was of fundamental importance not to disturb
the social organism and to acknowledge our collective consciousness:

To aim for a civilization beyond that made possible by the nexus of the surrounding environment will
result in unloosing sickness into the very society we live in. Collective activity cannot be encouraged
beyond the point set by the condition of the social organism without undermining health.

The chief form of social conflict that Durkheim addressed was crime. Durkheim saw crime as "a factor in
public health, an integral part of all healthy societies."[4] The collective conscience defines certain acts
as "criminal." Crime thus plays a role in the evolution of morality and law: "[it] implies not only that the
way remains open to necessary changes but that in certain cases it directly prepares these changes."[5]

Of the classical founders of social science, conflict theory is most commonly associated with Karl Marx.
Based on a dialectical materialist account history, Marxism posited that capitalism, like previous
socioeconomic systems, would inevitably produce internal tensions leading to its own destruction.[6].
Marx ushered in radical change, advocating proletarian revolution and freedom from the ruling classes.
It may be noted that Marxism is no less "structural" (or "top-down") in its approach, even if its
methodology differs; its major point of difference with Durkheimian functionalism is broadly political.

  
      is an umbrella term for theories of cultural evolution and social evolution,
describing how cultures and societies have changed over time. Note that "sociocultural evolution" is not
an equivalent of "sociocultural development" (unified processes of differentiation and integration
involving increases in sociocultural complexity), as sociocultural evolution also encompasses
sociocultural transformations accompanied by decreases of complexity (degeneration) as well as ones
not accompanied by any significant changes of sociocultural complexity (cladogenesis).[1] Thus,
sociocultural evolution can be defined as "the process by which structural reorganization is affected
through time, eventually producing a form or structure which is qualitatively different from the
ancestral form.... Evolutionism then becomes the scientific activity of finding nomothetic explanations
for the occurrence of such structural changes".[2] Although such theories typically provide models for
understanding the relationship between technologies, social structure, the values of a society, and how
and why they change with time, they vary as to the extent to which they describe specific mechanisms
of variation and social change.

Sociocultural modeling[3] is an umbrella term for theories of cultural and social evolution, which aims to
describe how cultures and societies have developed over time. Such theories typically provide models
for understanding the relationship between technologies, social structure, the beliefs, values and goals
of a society, and how and why they change with time.[4] Such models are of particular interest to the
military in helping unstable regions transition to more stable sustainable states. Most 19th century and
some 20th century approaches aimed to provide models for the evolution of humankind as a whole,
arguing that different societies are at different stages of social development. At present this thread is
continued to some extent within the World System approach. Many of the more recent 20th-century
approaches focus on changes specific to individual societies and reject the idea of directional change, or
social progress. Most archaeologists and cultural anthropologists work within the framework of modern
theories of sociocultural evolution. Modern approaches to sociocultural evolution include
neoevolutionism, sociobiology, theory of modernization and theory of postindustrial society.

 
   is a major sociological perspective that places emphasis on micro-scale social
interaction, which is particularly important in subfields such as urban sociology and social psychology.
Symbolic interactionism is derived from American pragmatism, especially the work of George Herbert
Mead and Charles Cooley. Herbert Blumer, a student and interpreter of Mead, coined the term and put
forward an influential summary of the perspective: people act toward things based on the meaning
those things have for them; and these meanings are derived from social interaction and modified
through interpretation. Blumer was also influenced by John Dewey, who insisted that human beings are
best understood in relation to their environment.[1]

Sociologists working in this tradition have researched a wide range of topics using a variety of research
methods. However, the majority of interactionist research uses qualitative research methods, like
participant observation, to study aspects of (1) social interaction and/or (2) individuals' selves.
Participant observation allows researchers to access symbols and meanings, as in Howard S. Becker's Art
Worlds (1982) and Arlie Hochschild's The Managed Heart (1983).[2] Sociological areas that have been
particularly influenced by symbolic interactionism include the sociology of emotions,
deviance/criminology, collective behavior/social movements, and the sociology of sex. Interactionist
concepts that have gained widespread usage include definition of the situation, emotion work,
impression management, looking glass self, and total institution. Semiology is connected to this
discipline, but unlike those elements of semiology which are about the structures of
language,interactionists typically are more interested in the ways in which meaning is fluid and
ambiguous.



    or in many contexts simply functionalism, is a broad perspective in sociology
and anthropology which sets out to interpret society as a structure with interrelated parts.
Functionalism addresses society as a whole in terms of the function of its constituent elements; namely
norms, customs, traditions and institutions. A common analogy, popularized by Herbert Spencer,
presents these parts of society as "organs" that work toward the proper functioning of the "body" as a
whole.[1] In the most basic terms, it simply emphasises "the effort to impute, as rigorously as possible,"
For Talcott Parsons, "functionalism" came to describe a particular stage in the methodological
development of social science, rather than a specific school of thought.[2]

The functionalist approach was implicit in the thought of the original sociological positivist, Auguste
Comte, who stressed the need for cohesion after the social malaise of the French Revolution. It was later
presented in the work of Émile Durkheim, who developed a full theory of organic solidarity, again
informed by positivism, or the quest for "social facts". Functionalism shares a history and theoretical
affinity with the empirical method. Latter sociological functionalists such as NiklasLuhmann and Talcott
Parsons, however, can be viewed as at least partially antipositivist.[3] Whilst one may regard
functionalism as a logical extension of the organic analogies for society presented by political
philosophers such as Rousseau, sociology draws firmer attention to those institutions unique to
industrialised capitalist society (or modernity). Functionalism also has an anthropological basis in the
work of theorists such as Marcel Mauss, Bronisław Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown. It is in Radcliffe-
Brown's specific usage that the prefix 'structural' emerged.[4]

  


 is a social psychological and sociological perspective that explains social change
and stability as a process of negotiated exchanges between parties. Social exchange theory posits that
all human relationships are formed by the use of a subjective cost-benefit analysis and the comparison
of alternatives. The theory has roots in economics, psychology and sociology.

Social exchange theory features many of the main assumptions found in rational choice theory and
structuralism.

The basic concepts addressed in social exchange theory are: Cost, Benefit, Outcome, Comparison Level,
Satisfaction, and Dependence. Benefits include things such as material or financial gains, social status,
and emotional comforts. Costs generally consist of sacrifices of time, money, or lost opportunities.
Outcome is defined to be the difference between the benefits and the costs:

OUTCOME = BENEFITS - COSTS

Note that because individuals have different expectations of relationships, an individual's satisfaction
with a relationship depends on more than just the outcome. For any two people with the same
outcome, their level of satisfaction may differ based on their expectations. One person may not expect
very large outcomes, and therefore would be more easily satisfied in relationships as compared to some
than someone who expects more. This notion of satisfaction is formalized as the difference between the
outcome and the comparison level:

SATISFACTION = OUTCOME - COMPARISON LEVEL

Satisfaction is not enough to determine whether a person stays within a relationship or leaves for an
alternative. That is to say, there are people who stay in unhappy relationships as well as those who leave
happy relationships. What determines whether an individual stays in a relationship or leaves is the set of
alternate relationships available. If there are many alternatives available to an individual, than that
individual is less dependent on the relationship. This notion of dependence is formalized as the
difference between the outcome and the comparison level of alternatives:

DEPENDENCE = OUTCOME - COMPARISON LEVEL OF ALTERNATIVES

Note that the set of potential alternatives can be governed both by extrinsic and intrinsic factors. An
example of an extrinsic factor would be that the person is from a sparsely populated town, and an
example of an intrinsic factor would be that a person is very shy about meeting new people. Both
intrinsic and extrinsic factors affect the set of people available to an individual for forming an alternate
relationship, and thus affect the level of dependence of the individual on his or her current relationship.

When deciding whether to leave the relationship, an individual considers the alternatives. There are
other considerations, such as the barriers to leaving the relationship. Such barriers include things such
as avoiding a fight, dealing with a shared financial account, etc. There are also considerations of the
investments that an individual has made in the relationship. For instance, a couple that has spent many
years together have invested a lot of time into a relationship, and thus must be weighted against the
benefits gained from an alternative relationships