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Three different sociological theories Essay Sample

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Three different sociological theories Essay Sample

With in this assignment I will be looking at three different sociological theories. These are functionalist, interactionist and Marxism. These all refer to different ways of looking at sports impact within society. Also so I will be conducting a questionnaire for this assignment to find out about participation levels of boys and girls aged between 11 and 18 and the factors which affect them. This will include things like parent’s occupation, the influence of friends, teachers and parents and the relation (if any) between the class of the parent’s occupation and what sports their children take part in. To determine this we have split the parents occupation in to three categories; professionals, skilled and manual. Then I will analyze the results and see if they follow any of the theories and give any reasons to why it may follow any of the mentioned theories.

The first theory I will be looking at is functionalism. Functionalism was acknowledged by a person called Durkheim. The functionalist theory is based on the idea that we best can study society by using a systems approach. Sociologists who use functionalist theory assume that society is an organized system of corresponding parts held together by shared values and processes that create understanding among people. According to the functionalist theory, the driving force underlying all social life is the tendency for any social system to maintain it self in a state of balance so it continues to operate efficiently.

This balance is naturally achieved as groups of people develop understanding with each other, common values and coordinated organization in the major parts or social life for example family, education, leisure and sport etc. When behaviors or forms of organization contribute to this balance then it is described as functional e.g. good role models. And when certain behaviors or forms of organization upset the balance they are described as dysfunctional for example football hooligans. With in the functionalist theory it is also said that social change is dysfunctional unless it occurs in a gradual, evolutionary manner (slowly and over a long period of time).

According to functionalist theory, the following four things must happen if a social system is to operate efficiently:

1. Firstly there must be methods for teaching people in the system the basic values and rules they are ment to live by. And since tension and frustration are created when people must comply with specific values and rules, there also must be opportunities for people in society to release this tension and frustration in harmless ways for example play sport.

2. Second, the system must contain social mechanisms for bringing people together and establishing cohesive and linked social relationships.

3. Third, there must be methods for teaching people in the system what goals are important and how they should go about achieving those goals.

4. Forth, the social system must contain built-in mechanisms for responding to social and environmental changes occurring outside the system, while preserving order inside the system.

According to the functionalist theory these four things represent the building blocks of social order in any society. And when the functionalist theory is studied the focus of attention is on how sports function to help meet these four system needs.

I will now move on to my second social theory that I will use within this assignment which is called the ‘Interactionists theory’. Interactionists theories focus on the meanings and interaction associated with sports and sport participation. They emphasize the complexity of human behavior and the need to understand behavior in terms of how people themselves define situations through their relationships with others. Interactionists would call for changes in sports that reflect the perspectives and identities of those who play sports. Many of them would argue that the best way of effecting these changes is to restructure sport organizations so that all involved, especially athletes, have opportunities to raise issues about the purposes and conditions of sport participation. Therefore they would call for sport organizations to be changed to make them more popular and less domineering and hierarchically organized.

My third and final theory, which I will use within my assignment, is called the Marxist theory or what it is more commonly known by some sociologists as the conflict theory. The conflict theory leads to the factors of economic factors, class inequality and the need for changes in the actual structure of sports. These changes would emphasize making athletes and spectators more aware of how they are handled and dealt with for profit and personal gains of the economic elite (the upper class) in society. Conflict theorists would argue that problems in sports exist because power does not rest in the hands of those that would and do play sport themselves. They would support programs through which economic profit motives could be controlled or eliminated in sports and where athletes themselves could be given more control over sports and the conditions of there sports participation. The policies that the conflict theory encourages ultimately would discourage the development and growth of spectator sports and promote the idea of games for the players themselves, which would eliminate profit and highlight the playing of the sport.


Within my hypothesis I predict that there will be certain correlation’s in my results because of where the participants of answer the questionnaire life and spent there leisure time. The area of Monmouthshire is a rural area with many of the local work force being involved in farming or the secondary sector of work although there are others who work in the other two sectors of work. I would also like to point out that Monmouth is one of the worst places in Wales for drugs and drug-related crime. Taking this in to account and also the fact that most people who do drugs and/or smoke are not positive towards sport therefore this could be a major factor on what sports they take part in and how much sport they take part in. Taking all the above in to account I predict that with boys invasion games (football, rugby basketball etc) will be the most popular.

For the girls I predict that invasion games will be popular but with girls it will be hockey and netball but they won’t be so dominant as with the boys. This is because girls have other sports such as dance, gymnastics and swimming available to them, this is the same for boys but it seems that they prove more popular with girls than boys. I also predict that boys will take part in a wider range of sports and that they’ll be members of more clubs inside and outside school. I also predict that teachers will have a large effect on how much sport boys and girls do now, I say this because they are the first people that teach you P.E in primary school therefore if you don’t like what they teach you it may create the mind set that all P.E is the same therefore giving the pupil a negative attitude towards P.E at a very young and influential age.


Teachers Influence

Within the questionnaire, one of the questions asked was did teachers have an influence of your participation in sport? The majority said that there teachers do have a significant effect, to be precise 69% of people that were asked said that it did have an effect on there participation in sport. A further break down in the results indicated that 65% of people asked thought that it had a positive effect and the remaining 4% thought that it had had a negative effect on them and participation in sport. This I think is due to the encouragement that they may get from there teachers whilst taking part in sport. I think that another factor is that there is more sports media than ever meaning that there is more sport on the TV, radio, Internet and newspapers. And because of this there are more and more sporting role models for children of all ages to look up at and admire which I think is another form of encouragement for the youth of today to participate in sport.

Friends Influence

Another question in my questionnaire was weather or not friends had influenced your participation levels in sport? Again the results prove that yes there is a significant amount of people who are influenced by there friends. In total 75% of people we asked said that there friends did have an effect on how much sport they participated in. The amount of people that said that their friends had a positive influence was 52%. Where as 23% said that there friends were a negative influence. And 25% of people that we asked said that there friends had no influence on their participation in sport.

When the negative influences of friends are compared to those of teachers, there is a clear difference between the two sets of figures with the negative influence of teachers being 4% and the negative influence of friends being 23%. I think the reason for such a big difference is because taking part in sport is largely down to social groups which are your friends and because whilst still at a young age groups of children will often play sport only with there friends and if there best friend doesn’t play sport then it may discourage them. I think another reason would be that friends have more of an influence is because people generally spend more time with there friends therefore they are closer socially meaning there opinion matters more therefore they will have more influence on there participation levels.

Parental Influence

Another question that was asked was do your parents have an influence of how much sport you participate in? The results we got were that 57% of people said that their parents did have an influence and 43% had no influence. This shows that parents have very mixed opinions when there child participates in sport weather it be good or bad.

Parents Occupation

This question was to establish what occupation their parents did. To analyze the information in depth we split the types of jobs in to three main categories, which were professionals, skilled and manual. The first thing I looked for was correlation between the type of job and any other set of data. The first correlation I looked for was between job type of parents and weather or not they had a membership for a club outside of school. The results showed that 70% of professionals, 62% of skilled and 50% of manual are members of a club. As you can see professionals are mostly members of a club this could be that on average they might earn more money, giving them more disposable income. There is still over half of the skilled section that are members of clubs.

And exactly half of the manual section are members of clubs. This just shows how important some parents in today’s society think it is for their child to get involved in some form of sporting exercise or club. Another correlation that I found was that everybody that answered the questionnaire who said that they played golf and were a member of a golf club also had a least one parent who was a professional. The sport of tennis was spread over all three working sections. Horse riding was also spread over all three working sections this I think is due to the rural geographical region also many people said they owned there own horse meaning there’s more disposable income to maintain horses.

Ethnic Background and Race

Due to the sample of information I have obtain I am unable to make any representative conclusions regarding ethnic background and participation meaning there’s mainly white European.

Most Popular Sports

Within my assignment I tried to establish which sports where the most popular. The results show that football, rugby and hockey were the most popular with 14% each. This I think is due to the large amount of playing fields and all weather astro turf available to the public and clubs. To my surprise there was less than 1% who said they did swimming which is a shock because there is an amount of local swimming pools. Dance also was very popular with 13%. My reasoning for this is that within the school that the questionnaire was completed there is a large amount of dance facilities as well as a large amount of local dance clubs.

How Many Sports

Another set of data which I interpreted from my results was how many sports boys and girls take part in. Firstly with the boys the results stand as 13% take part in no sports, 30% playing one sport, 20% playing two sports, 8% playing three sports, 17% playing four sports, 4% playing five sports and 8% playing seven sports. It’s clear to me that as these results show boys tend to have one or two favorite sports which they take part in. Also 85% of boys take part in at least one sport which just proves what I’ve said above. But this also means that there is 15% of boys that don’t do any sport at all. The girl’s results are very different when compared to the boys.

The girls results went as follows 37% played no sports, 23% play one sport, 15% play two sports, 15% play three sports, 4% play four sports, 4% play five sports and 2% play ten sports. There is also 63% of girls that play at least one sport. This means there is 37% of girls that don’t play any sport. There are a few results that stand out when compared to the boys results such as 37% of girls play no sport where as it’s under half that for boys (15%). It also seems to me that the girls results are more spread out for example 15% of girls play three sports where as it’s only 8% for boys. Within both the boys and girls that were asked there were some pupils that were extremely sporty. In the boys case 8% played seven sports and in the girls there was 2% who played ten sports.

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