Great thinkers have been trying to understand the world and peoples' place in it since the beginning of time. Some have done this by developing theories in order to explain how events or phenomena occur. Sociology has generally been understood as the study of human society, therefore it is important to develop a sociological perspective in studying the human society. Sociologists view society in different ways. Some see the world basically as a stable and ongoing entity. They are impressed with the endurance of the family, organised religion and others social institutions. Some sociologists see society as composed of many groups in conflict, competing for scarce resources. To other sociologists, the most fascinating aspects of the social world are everyday routine interactions among individuals that sometimes are taken for granted. These three views, the ones mostly used by sociologists, are the functionalist, conflict, and symbolic interactionist perspectives. This essay therefore attempts to outline the broad differences between the symbolic interactionist perspective and the macro-sociological perspectives, and thereafter discuss the extent to which symbolic interactionism is plausible or important in explaining social phenomena. This essay is divided into two main parts. The first part will start by giving the definitions of the three perspectives in order to gain an understanding of how each views society. Then the differences between the macro perspectives and symbolic interactionism shall be outlined. The second part discusses the extent to which symbolic interactionism is plausible in explaining social phenomena. After which a conclusion will be drawn.
A perspective, in general, is a way of looking at the world. Each perspective attempts to integrate various kinds of information about society. A society can be defined as "a group of people living in a defined territory and participating in a common culture" (Shepard, 2010:63).