Sample Essay on Sociological Theoretical Paradigms

Paradigms are extensive perspectives or viewpoints that enable social scientists to acquire a variety of tools to define the behaviour of the society, and be able to create valid hypothesis and theories (Stolley, 2005). There are three major sociological theoretical paradigms which include the conflict paradigm, the functionalist paradigm (structural functionalism) and the symbolic interactionist paradigm.

The conflict paradigm is normally used to give explanation on issues such as socioeconomic inequality, why poverty is prevalent is some groups, wealth distribution, sexism and ageism (Stolley, 2005). Notably, this perspective is used to explain the inequalities that are normally found in all societies around the world. Basically, conflict paradigm provides vital explanation on why society experiences these inequalities.

Functionalist paradigm is subscribed by individuals who view society as socially stable and identify the mechanisms that are used to sustain social stability (Stolley, 2005). It offers explanation on various ways in which social institutions such as family and religion are used to sustain social stability.

Symbolic Interactionist paradigm is subscribed by individuals who view society as small groups of individuals who interact based on various cultural symbols, such as spoken and written language which are interpreted by people in the society. Nevertheless, the main interest of this paradigm is cultural symbol interpretation.

For each, what are its core questions? Which one do you relate to best?
Functionalist Paradigm
  • What are the components of society?


  • How do these components relate to each other?
  • What keeps the society in balance?
  • What are expected and unexpected consequences of an event?
Conflict Paradigm
  • How are wealth, supremacy, opportunities and resources shared within society?
  • How do people or groups sustain their wealth and power?
  • Which groups flourish in the society and why?
Symbolic Interactionists
  • What influences do individuals have on creation of a social structure?
  • In what manner does social interaction impact human relationships?
  • Do individuals alter their behaviour depending on setting? If so, why?

In my case, I relate best with conflict paradigm. I have been brought up in a society where social stratifications are quite clear in a capitalist society. There are the wealthy, middle class and the poor who are the majority.

 How can you use this particular paradigm to explain your decision to attend college?  

The reason why I attend college is because I want to overcome challenges associated with conflict society. It is difficult to secure job without proper education. In most cases, the people who are seen to make it in this type of society consider education as the most fundamental tool to empower them.




Stolley, K. S. (2005). The basics of sociology. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press