The functionalist perspective of sociology takes the society as a living thing where by each and every part of it contributes to its existence as a whole unit. Theorists advocating for this theoretical perspective defines a society as a network of inter-linked units and that if one of these units fails to provide useful function to the society, then a vast consensus is reached not to carry the unit to the next generation (Schaefer, 2009). In this aspect, disruption of any social unit or setting is termed as a dysfunction and is highly condemned. This is because disruption of the society is a possible dysfunction that can lead to instability of the society as a whole. However, there are cases where a dysfunction can be taken positively especially if it proves to offer benefits to certain society members or groups. For instance, groups like Yakuza gang commonly known in Japanese society may be a dysfunction in one way by posing a threat the society’s stability but at the same time may help the less fortunate individuals to assume power and other government policies because some of the gang’s members are high ranking government and political party officials (Schaefer, 2009).
Considering the conflict perspective of sociology, the theorists who advocate for this perspective take the society as a place where there is constant competition for resources, struggle for power and scramble for various political representations. The theory has two main perspectives termed as Feminist view as well as Marxist view. The Marxist view as established by Karl Marx focuses on how the low class workers in a capitalized economy are faces varying exploitation. On the other hand, Feminist perspective focuses on the gender inequality (macro level) and makes an assumption that inequality is the main focus in all organization’s behavior. It is this conflict perspective of sociology that enables sociologists to make contrasts and comparisons of various groups in the society that opposes one another. This is a major process of determining the groups that dominate, suffers or benefits following the continuous struggle in the society (Schaefer, 2009).
Interactionist perspective is the sociological view of the society at a micro level since its main focus is on the day to day interactions in the society. In this perspective, symbolic interactionism is a very familiar term where by various groups in the society makes use of various symbols as a means of passing information (communication). It is through these symbols that human beings are able to create the world around them and apply nonverbal communication methods (gestures, body posture and facial expressions) to initiate interactions with others. An individual’s image in this case is a vital quality since it can enhance or intimidate his/her connection with others. It is these social and intimate connections that contribute to growth as well as development of a social world (Schaefer, 2009).
The three theories are different in a way that functionalists and interactionists focus on the positive societal aspects that enhances the stability of the society while the conflict theory focuses on ever changing, negative as well as conflicted societal nature. The conflict theory encourages social change and advocates for change in status quo which is in contract with the functionalist perspective. The three perspectives offer varying insights regarding the study of human population (Ferrante, 2007). From functionalist perspective, human populations comprise of productive and unproductive groups of individuals. Those who are productive prosper while those who are unproductive remain behind/perish. Considering interactionist perspective, human populations exist by interactions through communication and other co-existing measures. Considering conflict perspective, human populations are in constant struggle and competition for world resources and it is these state that leads to continuous social change (Ferrante, 2007).