Sociology of Racial and Cultural Groups

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Three sociological perspectives used in the study of minorities are: Structural functionalism, symbolic interactionalism and conflict theory. These perspectives offer "theoretical paradigms" for explaining how society influences people, taking into account the social factors that impact on human behavior. However, different theories, ideas, and prejudices can influence a sociologist's conclusions. Each of these theories has a contribution to make with a distinct focus. Functional theory was influenced by Emile Durkheim. Adherents of this theory emphasize, "Various parts of society have functions or positive effects that promote solidarity and maintain the stability of the whole." (Parrillo 11) Thus a society is held together by "social consensus," or cohesion whereby members of the society agree upon and work together to achieve what is best for society as a whole. The social structure consists of status positions, roles and institutions (family, education and religion), and members that share common values. It is a system of interrelated and independent parts, and each of these parts plays an important role in fulfilling certain functions for a smooth operation of society. Functionalists think that all elements of society should function together to maintain order and stability, and under ideal conditions, a society would be in a state of balance with all parts interacting harmoniously. Problems come about when the social system is no longer functional offsetting society's balance. . The most frequent cause for this disorganization is rapid social change, which causes conflicts. Because the focus is on societal stability an important issue in this analysis of societal disorganization is `whether to restore the ... ... middle of paper ... ...to attain socioeconomic growth, educational and job opportunities, and also maintain ethnic solidarity. Alba and Nee indicate that we will have a better understanding of ethnic and racial differences if we refine the assimilation theory to address differences in settlement, language acquisition, and mobility patterns. REFERENCES Janzen, Rod. "Melting Pot or Mosaic." Educational Leadership 79:9-11 Ruane, Janet M. and Karen A. Cerulo. 1997. " Education is the Great Equalizer." Pp156-162 in Seeing Conventional Wisdom through the Sociological Eye. California. Pine Forge Press. Parrillo, Vincent J. 2003. Strangers to These Shores. New York: Allyn and Bacon. Dzgourides, George and Christeie S. Zgourides. 2012. Cliffs Quick Review Sociology New York. IDG Books Worldwide Inc. Samuelson, Robert J. 2014 "Can America Assimilate." Time, April 9, pp42

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