Contemporary Social Theory

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Two major approaches to contemporary social theory are the Marxian materialist approach and the structural functionalist approach. The materialist approach was developed from the work of Karl Marx, who believed that the economic order shapes society. The functionalist approach was developed from the work of Comte and Durkheim, stating that is the combination of all of society’s institutions that shapes society. An organic analogy is most often used to explain structural functionalism. The analogy …

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…can be understood by what it attempts to accomplish and what purpose it serves. Also they both look at society through the big picture, the larger social structure (Knuttila, 1996, p.167), rather than the individuals in society. The materialist and functionalist approaches to contemporary social theory will continue to provide the basis for future theories. Despite their differences, their importance to sociology is significant. They provide the basis for beginning to understand society and its theories.