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Urquico, Chiara Ysabelle



Understanding the nature of a society is no easy feat. Given that, some of the greatest minds throughout history had assembled the most feasible of theories that have helped generations of men in understanding the complex whole that is society. One such theory would be Functionalism, which simply put, tackles the functions of the different social institutions in a society. Comprised of the works of Herbert Spencer, Emile Durkheim, Talcott Parsons, and Robert Merton, the functionalist perspective sheds light on the idea that society is a system of interconnected parts that work together in harmony to maintain a state of balance (Mooney, et al, 2007). According to functionalism, the different institutions in society: family, education, religion, politics and economy, are linked with one another, and whatever happens within a particular institution affects that which happens in another. The Functionalist theory has contributed more than just the mere idea of interconnectednessit also keeps in check the functionality of each element, and whether it has proven itself functional or dysfunctional in one’s society.

Another theory worth discussing would be the Critical theory as put forth by sociologists from the Frankfurt School, and is rooted upon the ideologies of Karl Marx. As opposed to other theories which simply aims to understand society, the critical theory aspires to critique and change society as a whole. Theorists such as Lukács and Gramsci, as well as those from Frankfurt school place great emphasis on ideology and cultural forces that foster barriers and become hindrances to true freedom in society. Horkheimer also stated that a critical theory must be explanatory when it comes to stating the problems in society, practical in giving out solutions , and normative in abiding by the criticism established by the field, (Crossman, 2019).

Interpretivism on the other hand, is an ideology developed by Max Weber, and is rooted from the Geraman word “verstehen” which means “to understand” and likewise aims to to have a deep understanding of some social phenomena. But unlike

Durkheim’s school of thought which presents the world of man as a set of empirical quantitative data, interpretive sociology is accomplished by immersing one self into the experiences of those who are central figures to the existing phenomenon. In this way of sociological thinking, society is presented as a thinking and feeling body rather than a set of numbers and quantitative data.

With all this information being said, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that all these theories, one way or another, have helped us create for ourselves, an understanding of how society functions. If a layman were to observe society with the point of view of Durkheim or Spencer in functionalism, one would agree that indeed, these social institutions do more than just co-exist with one another. They can be associated with the organs and systems of the body which perform certain roles to sustain life as a whole. But as put forth by the likes of Karl Marx and his ideologies that have helped curate the critical theory, life does not stop in simply understanding what life is about. I am adequately convinced of the purpose of the critical theory in the growth of society. A society, it being comprised of growing and changing individuals, will most likely require growth and change as a whole, and with the critical theory, it may achieve just that. Speaking of individuals from a society, it is safe to say that no two persons are the same regardless of their similar interests or characteristics, and thus cannot be expected to react to certain phenomena the same way. This being said, Max Weber’s interpretive sociology is certainly not to be underestimated. It not only provides a deep understanding of how human beings evolve in society, but also, a learning of how society can prosper and evolve with the people that comprises it.


Crossman, A. (2019, July 01). How to Understand Max Weber's Interpretive Sociology. Retrieved from

Crossman, A. (2019, January 24). What Is Critical Theory? Retrieved from

Mooney, et al (2007) The Three Main Sociological Perspectives. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/search?q=functionalist+theory&oq=Functionalism+theor&aqs=chrom