Theoretical Perspectives on Everyday Life
Over the years, social scientists have been employing the concepts of social change and social structure in their studies on sociology and cultural anthropology. The two concepts have, at times, been polarized with the social structure referring to permanence as social change makes reference to modification. As such, the relationship between these concepts has always been complicated. For instance, as the structure does not imply the absence of modification, the concept of change has not been fully definable. Sociologists have categorized sociological perspectives into three: functionalism, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism. Symbolic interactionism is a micro-analysis that focuses on the application of symbols as well as the interpersonal interactions. On the contrary, functionalism is a macro-analysis that is focused on the relationship between various portions of the society. It also addresses the issues of adaptation in the society (Sahoo 2006, 16). On its part, conflict theory addresses the issues of competition for resources as well as how the powerful control the weak.
Symbolic interactionism enables individuals to evaluate the details and symbols in everyday life. The goal is to uncover the meaning of these symbols as well as the manner in which individuals interact. The perspective in symbolic interactionism enables individuals to uncover the meanings of symbols before acting according to the interpretation of those symbols. In verbal conversations, words represent the main form of symbols from which subjective interpretations can be made. Nevertheless, there are those who believe that symbolic interactionism is an ineffective method as it avoids macro-interpretation. In functionalism, all aspects of social life are interdependent, and as such, they contribute to the functioning of the whole society. An example of such interdependence is where the government provides educational support for the students but then requires families to pay taxes (Hughes & Martin 2003, 13). The interdependence between two sections of the society illustrates the manner in which different sections of the society relate to one another.
A number of features formulating the society’s structure have always been dynamic. One of the most apparent changes in everyday life is the structure of individuals’ kinship in the community. In today’s perspective, individuals are getting acquainted with isolationism, a situation that results in marked changes in the kinship relations between generations. In fact, no single generation has been a replica of another. This implies that the same patterns that help to maintain the society’s structure may become agents of its modification and change as time goes by. This paper addresses how the perspectives on everyday life have changed and how this change facilitates our understanding of historicity of life.
It has been established that the social change and social structure possess certain preferences and ideas with regard to everyday life. In addition to maintenance of the basic social characteristics of human beings, understanding the concept of structure facilitates a conducive and harmonious coexistence. According to Cuff (1998), the problem of conflict and repression is instigated by inadequate understanding of the historicity of life. Understanding life facilitates the reduction of tension in the society as everyone is able to cope with the prevailing circumstances.
The importance of theoretical perspectives in life began to gain dominance during the 19th century. By that time, theoretical perspectives were already in application in various fields, including biology and construction. The biological connotations of the phrase are present in the studies undertaken by the early social theorists, for example, by Herbert Spencer. These theorists perceived the society as a living organism. They considered it as an arrangement whose parts are independent in a manner that resembles the anatomy of an organism. In essence, these theorists facilitated the understanding of life as we know it today. Nevertheless, there were disagreements with regard to the definition of a couple of elements in the social life. The bottom-line was that the definition of life incorporated the features in a social entity that retains permanence over a certain period of time. This presented an implicit notion of social structure.
Since the time of the early theorists, perspectives on life have been changing. The perspectives of the modern times are that human social relations are not coincidental or arbitrary. On the contrary, the perspectives have changed, and they now exhibit persistence and regularity. Today’s individuals appreciate the fact that life is not defined by an amorphous social arrangement but by a differentiated set of institutions, positions, and groups that are inter-dependent and functionally interrelated. As the evaluation of interrelationship between characteristics of social groupings proceeds, people come to learn of individual’s intentions and wishes with respect to their social environment. As such, the contemporary understanding of life presents the realization that individuals are not entirely free. An individual is always constrained through the social relationships that he/she formulates with others. Although this view has been acceptable to social theorists, a significant number of individuals are yet to appreciate its impact. Nevertheless, as the social structure in the society is modified, most individuals are abiding by the view involuntarily (Cuff & Francis 1998, 3).
In addition to the differing theoretical views, there exist preliminary remarks regarding the general aspect of the societal structures. In most instances, theoretical perspectives are structured along specific times and spaces. In the modern times, social activities are organized with regard to the setting in question. Among the social activities are those which involve working and worshipping. Other factors influencing such activities include the territorial boundaries of a place, property rules regarding the possession and the use of scarce resources, and the maintenance of peace and security. Many individuals are appreciating the fact that as much as violence is a destructive force which succeeds by coercing and not convincing. Such features of the society represent a patterned arrangement of a group of people that are related to one another through cultural expectations.
Studies have shown that the basic characteristic of a human society is the pattern of the relationships between the individuals. Such individuals share institutions and distinctive cultures in a manner that ultimately bring them closer to one another. In this regard, an evaluation of everyday life enables the society to benefit in a manner that would be difficult on an individual basis. As such, theoretical perspectives facilitate the distinction between the individual and the societal benefits. In broad terms, a society may be referred to as a social-economic arrangement that is constituted of a varied aggregation of individuals. These individuals may have originated from different ethnic groups or a wider cultural group. On coming together, members of the society identify themselves with certain religious, political, and social views, which serves to formulate their defining features (Coffey 2004, 13-25).
The understanding of everyday life necessitates the analysis of social phenomena from various perspectives. The formulation of concrete interpretation asks for a sociological study of events, both big and small. The study of minor social patterns is referred to as micro-analysis, which is as important as macro-analysis. In this regard, the early sociologists presented a fundamentally broad conceptualization of the society and its operations (Sahoo 2006, 16). They came up with the views that form the basis for the contemporary paradigms. These paradigms orient the philosophical position in a manner that would facilitate the evaluation of life as well as the conceptualization of historicity of life.