The three sociological paradigms are all part of the sociological theory. More specifically, they are all "basic images of society that guides thinking and research (Macionis 14). The three sociological paradigms are the structural-functional paradigm, the social-conflict paradigm, and the symbolic-interaction paradigm. Both the structural-functional paradigm and the social-conflict paradigm are both on the macro-levels, meaning that they focus on broader ideas. All three paradigms are frameworks for building theory (17). These paradigms have distinct differences in what makes each significant.
The structural-functional paradigm looks at society as a complex system with all its parts working together. To break it down, structural looks at social behavior and whether there are any stable patterns to it. The functional half looks at how society functions and the consequences of actions taken. Auguste Comte, Emile Durkheim, Herbert Spencer, Talcott Parsons and Robert Merton were all key contributors to the structural-functional paradigm. Auguste Comte associated this paradigm to whether there was integration taking place during social changes. Emile Durkheim used this
approach to pioneer a study a study on suicide and found that white, single, rich protestant males were most likely to commit suicide. Another important sociologist was Herbert Spencer. Spencer looked at society as a human body with all the parts of the body work together to keep us alive, just like society. It organizes and identifies all the parts and looks at how they all work alone and then together. Talcott Parsons took and carried the ideas Comte, Durkheim, and Spencer and looked at society as a system. He looked at what it took for society to survive and also how this was accomplished. Robert Merton took a more contemporary approach and expanded this paradigm. He broke down structural-functional and created more to their original meaning