Sociology defines ways different people interact with each other and view the world. Numerous sociological theories and perspectives enable us to hold different perspectives of the world. Some of the best known perspectives sociology makes use of are the functionalist perspective, the conflict perspective, and the symbolic interactionist perspective. One of the areas where people interact today is social networking sites. Currently, they have changed the way people interact and share their views in the world. People have developed new possibilities of using social networking sites to achieve various goals and, as a result, social networking have become intertwined with the daily lives of people. The three sociological theories mentioned offer different perspectives on how social networking sites and todays society can be perceived. This essay defines how one can apply the functionalist perspective, the conflict perspective, and the symbolic interactionist perspective to understand such phenomenon as social networking sites.
People in different societies have different cultures. Cultures represent the beliefs of the people in these societies. It has several elements including symbols, language, behavior patterns, social institution, among others. Anything that happens within a culture can be explained by sociologists as being influenced by the elements of culture in that society. For example, in most cases, cultural background determines a persons choice of one thing over the other.. Through opportunities, the society develops means to progress and exploit these new openings successfully.
The functionalist perspective defines the society as a system of different elements that are interconnected and work together seamlessly so as to have a state of balance and equilibrium in the society (Andersen & Taylor, 2008). It states that each of these elements makes a small contribution to the society. In describing social networking sites using the functionalist perspective, social networking tools allow people to share their ideas and interact regardless of the region where they reside. The information shared on social networking sites allows people to know what is happening around them. Social networking sites have become news outlets where people in one corner of the world can understand what is happening in another corner of the world in real time. They have spanned different cultures and generations to enable people to interact with each other. On different social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, users have friends or followers who are not from the same geographical location as themselves with whom they can share ideas or talk about what is happening. From the above description, a functionalist perspective is an important tool in understanding how people interact in social networking sites.
Another sociological theory that can be used to bring a new perspective to social networking is the conflict perspective theory. The conflict perspective theory can be defined as a theory that looks at the society as a set of individuals who have different interests, and who compete for power and resources (Andersen & Taylor, 2008). This theory is important since it views the society by defining the different groups that benefit or have power from a single arrangement. When applied to social networking, the conflict perspective theory can be used to show how social networking is limited only to members of the society that can afford the modern technology. Additionally, social networking sites can be used as exclusion propagation tools. Different people who have opposing views on certain issues can exclude the rest of the people. In some countries, governments have been known to censor the social networking sites or the internet as a whole due to members of the public being vocal on these sites as to the issues affecting them and the way they think the government is not working to solve these issues. Anonymity in these networks enables people to speak without the fear of retribution to those holding opposing views. It is only recently that the world has experienced people in the Middle East ousting governments out of power using social networking sites to drive this campaign (Radcliffe, 2016). In the US, social networks have been used to drive societal issues such as police discrimination leading to protests such as the Black Lives Matter (Safdar, 20160. This theory is, therefore, important for understanding the society. This perspective is the most applicable for describing social networking sites and the rest of the society.
The last sociological theory that can be used to explain social networking is the symbolic interactionalism. The symbolic interactionalism perspective can be defined as a theory concerned with the interaction of individuals in small groups. It puts emphasis on the idea that the behavior of members of the society can be influenced by different definitions and meanings developed through the symbolic interaction with others. In a social networking perspective, the symbolic interactionalism perspective can be observed in the way that social networking sites has infiltrated our culture. Social networking sites has brought about new meaning, and a sense of importance to words such as post, status, unfriend, follow, unfollow, trending, tweet among others. Social networking can be applied to everything that people seek to do today. Each element of the society has sought to include social networking with it. As a result, the symbolic interactionalism perspective can be used explain how the different facets of the society use social networking each day.
In conclusion, the three sociological perspectives theory can be used to present different views on the society that we live in. Social networking is one of the things that the todays society is identified with. In explaining social networking, the functionalist perspective theory describes the roles played by social networking sites in the society. Social networking enables the interaction of different people regardless of their culture or geographical location. The conflict perspective describes social networking as only for people who can afford these technologies. Additionally, people on social networking sites hold different views on different issues affecting them hence social networking sites can be used for campaigning for or against different issues. The last perspective known as symbolic interactionalism shows how social networking has permeated our culture, bringing new meanings to various events and even words used in the society.