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Structural theories see society as a complex system consisting of various institutions. These institutions govern the behaviour of individuals. It looks at society from a macro level.

Structural theories emphasize the power of society over the individual, and believe that the individual is largely controlled by society. The society exists within an individual as a set of norms and values, and this models the individual's thoughts and guides their actions. These norms and values are gained through socialization, which acts as a form of social control.

Consensus theory

Consensus theories such as functionalism believe that the cooperation between different social institutions forms the basis of social life. This cooperation is formed due to a general agreement on the norms and values of society shared between individuals. It is believed that without the cooperation between social institutions, society would collapse into chaos where there is a lack of agreement on how individuals should behave themselves.

Conflict theory

Conflict theories such as Marxism and Feminism believe that there is conflict between different social institutions in society. In these theories, there is usually a ruling class (E.g. men in feminism) which controls other social institutions through various methods for exploitation. It is believed that this results in a continued struggle that leads to various disadvantages for society.

Related theories

Functionalism

Marxism

Feminism

Contrasting theories

Social Action Theory

Related sociologists

Related research

Past paper questions