Introduction to Theoretical Perspectives on Government and Power

What you’ll learn to do: describe the varying theoretical perspectives on government and power

Four pairs of hands shown from above, connected to each other in a criss cross formation.

Sociologists use interpretive and theoretical frameworks to gain perspective on data and observations related to the study of power and government. Functionalism suggests that societal power and structure is predicated on cooperation, interdependence, and shared goals or values. Conflict theory, rooted in Marxism, asserts that societal structures are the result of social groups competing for wealth, power, and influence. Symbolic interactionism examines a smaller realm of sociological interest: the individual’s perception of symbols of power and their subsequent reaction to the face-to-face interactions of the political realm.

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