theory 4989

interdependent substructures having correspon
ding functions that operate in a coordinated
fashion to maintain the integrity of the system
as a whole. The basic ideas were first inspired
by analogies to living organisms. Many theorists
in this area strove to identify a set of universal
requisite functions that are essential for the sur
vival of any system. Early theorists included
Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer, and Emile
Durkheim. In the mid twentieth century, major
figures included Robert K. Merton, who was
best known for emphasizing the development
of theories of the middle range (between
grand and particularistic), and Talcott Parsons,
known for his adaptation, goal attainment, inte
gration, and latency (AGIL) model of sys
tem functions. Although functionalism lost its
dominant status in sociology many years ago,
its core ideas have continued to evolve and
persist through several other lines of work such
as human ecology, organizational ecology, neo
functionalism, evolutionary approaches, and
others.
Interactionism. In contrast to the larger fields
primary concern with macro scale social phe
nomena, the interactionist tradition in sociol
ogy gives primacy to what we may call the
social individual. Charles Horton Cooleys work
in the early 1900s on the emergence of self
concepts out of social interaction proved to be
seminal. George Herbert Mead became a lead
ing figure in the 1930s and beyond by synthe
sizing earlier work and making theoretical
connections between societal institutions, the
social self, and the minds of human actors.
Meads ideas were extended by theorists such
as Jacob Moreno and Robert Park, both of
whom emphasized the selfsociety connections
inherent in the process of occupying social
roles. While the core of this line of work came
to be known as symbolic interactionism, branches
instigated by the likes of Edmund Husserl,
Alfred Schutz, Herbert Blumer, Manford
Kuhn, and others included phenomenology,
ethnomethodology, self theories, role theories,
identity theories, emotion theories, sociolin
guistics, dramaturgical analysis, conversation
analysis, and more. There have been numerous
prominent contributors to these theoretical
developments including Ralph Turner, Erving
Goffman, Aaron Cicourel, Harold Garfinkel,
Sheldon Stryker, Theodore Kemper, Randall
Collins, and others. Among the more interest
ing developments are several theories that go
against the interactionist preference for discur
sive theorizing: David Heises affect control
theory, Peter Burkes identity control theory,
and Joseph Bergers expectation states theory
are all formal theories with roots in interaction
ism. Each has survived systematic empirical
testing and grown increasingly broad and pre
cise over time.
Structuralism. As the label implies, structur
alism is concerned with the ways that patterns
among social objects determine social behavior.
Within this rubric can be found a dizzying array
of topics, levels of analysis, and styles of theor
izing. Thus, the objects of investigation can
range from patterns of individual cognitions to
the patterns of political coalitions among
nations. The field of structuralist theories was
far simpler in the twentieth century when it
emerged as a direct extension of certain strands
within Marxist, Durkheimian, and Simmelian
theorizing. Toward the middle of the century,
however, the area experienced an infusion of
disparate influences from the French social
anthropologist Claude Levi Strauss and his
cognitive linguistic approach; from the British
anthropologist Alfred Radcliffe Brown, who
emphasized the reality of social structures
rather than cognitive representations of them;
and from the US by Morenos sociometry, Alex
Bavelass communication network studies, bal
ance theoretic approaches of Fritz Heider,
Theodore Newcomb, Dorwin Cartwright, and
Frank Harary, and Blaus macrostructural the
ory. Today, the more recent approaches emer
ging from structuralist traditions hardly seem
related at all: social network analysis, Pierre
Bourdieus cultural conflict theory, Anthony
Giddenss structuration theory, and many
others.
Others. The preceding represents only a small
sample of schools of sociological theorizing,
albeit a sample whose components have had
profound impacts on the field. Many others
have achieved at least some level of prominence,
however. In addition to several schools or per
spectives mentioned but not elaborated in the
preceding paragraphs, members of another set
receive relatively frequent mention in contem
porary textbooks and websites. To characterize
some of these briefly and in no particular order: