Sociology uses many theories to explain how and why specific facts are related. Among them are the structural-functional theory and the social-conflict theory. Each of these theories has their own strenghts and weaknesses. It is important that we look at social systems, social integration, social control, and social change in each theory to fully understand how they work.
The social system of structural-functional theory focuses on the parts- for example, societies or groups- of a social system tries to determine what each part does, and explains how the parts are related to each other. From this perspective, social life is viewed as one of cooperation and consensus among the various parts of a system with basic agreements about it’s goals, values, and beliefs; thus creating a system that runs smoothly. Unlike the structural-functional theory, the social-conflict theory is disorganized. There is always a conflict between the different parts. Some factors such as social class, race, ethnicity, gender and age are linked to the unequal distribution of money, power, education, and social prestige.
Social structure works together in much the same way as all aspects working together with one another to preserve society. Social integration in the social-conflict theory works by conflict between the dominant and disadvantage categories of people- rich, white vs. color, men vs. women. People on top aim to protect their priviledges, while those on the bottom struggle to gain more for themselves. Social control is voluntary in the structural-functional theory, and the members of society encourages agreement. Society is controlled mainly by those in power; therefore those without power must comply with their rules. Social change is slow in structural-functional theory. A society generally works well together when there isn’t anything broken to cause any changes.