Theoretical Perspectives

Within the study of the Family

Social scientists attempt to answer the following questions:

What happens?

How does it happen?

Why does it happen?

How can people change what happens?

Social scientists attempt to explain human behaviour from a particular perspective


With your table partner(s) look at the following 6 images. Discuss the following:

1. What was the first thing that each of you saw in each of the pictures?

2. If your partner(s) saw different things first, or not at all, discuss why you think this happens.

What are the above images demonstrating?

Perception is the way the brain interprets an image or event

Perspective is the way you perceive or interpret the meaning of an image or event

Your perspective is influenced by the beliefs & values you hold

It draws you to some things & blinds you to others

A Theoretical Perspective ...

•is a point of view about a subject

•gives us a framework for asking questions

•helps us to organize & manage research

•reflects an individual’s assumptions about human behaviour & the motivations behind it

•is viewed as true by its supporters

Big image

Which perspective should I use to study a topic question?

No one perspective is best in all circumstances

The perspective one uses may depend upon the question being asked

Once you have watched the videos below and made some notes on each of the perspectives you will try and fit some scenarios into each of the perspectives.


•They are analytical tools for understanding, explaining & making predictions about a given subject matter

•They are a framework for organizing & explaining observable evidence

•In the social sciences they define patterns & trends

•Some attempt to explain the same set of observations

•Many were developed in the mid-20th century, a time of intensive study in the social sciences

•Some are durable & continue to be used to explain human behaviour

•Others have become less useful as the facts of human behaviour have changed & been replaced by newer theories

Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology


“Families are institutions that serve specific functions in society & family members are expected to fill prescribed roles within the institution for the good of society as a whole” (Albanese, 2007, p. 14).

Watch the following video on Functionalism and summarize the most important components of the perspective.


Systems Theory

•It examines how family members interact as a system (can be compared to the human body)

•The goal is to maintain stability of the system

•Family systems have complex organization because individuals never leave a family

•A change in one member causes change in all members

•Terms: feedback = the process by which members learn to

maintain stability in a reciprocal way

subsystems = the family unit, interpersonal & personal

strategies = habits to meet goals/functions that require


Theoretical Perspectives Psychology

Symbolic Interactionism

•It is how individuals behave based on their perceptions of themselves & others

•People define & interpret their experiences to give them meaning

•It is this meaning that matters not the social facts

•Three basic concepts:

•“me” (objective qualities i.e., tall) & “I” (subjective awareness i.e., shy)

•“take the attitude of the other”

•Interaction dependent on shared symbols & meanings

“I am not what I think I am. I am not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am” (Cooley).

Once again please summarize (in chart format/point form/venn diagram etc) the main points from the video below.

Symbolic Interactionism

Exchange Theory

Watch the video embedded below. Once you have viewed the video, in your own words, explain what you believe to be exchange theory. Note this is not an instructional video, but a movie to depict social exchange theory in action.
Exchange Theory

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Theoretical Perspectives

The last two theories that we are covering today are the Feminist theory and Conflict theory. For each theory please make notes on the major components of the theory.
Conflict Theory
Feminist theory

For each image (scenario below) state which perspective would study the scenario and state your reasoning for selecting your choice.