Macrosociology vs microsociology | Society and Culture | MCAT | Khan Academy


Voiceover: Macrosociology and
microsociology are two different levels of analysis in sociology to study
societies. You need a place to start when you’re
looking at a society, otherwise it can feel rather
overwhelming. Because not only do you have the
individual people making up the population you’re studying,
you also have the different groups that also make up
your population and the communities and the cultures and
the subcultures. And you have your population as a whole
that you can look at. So if you can at least figure out what
perspective you want to start with, it’ll help you find a good
foot hold to proceed. Okay, macrosociology is the large scale
perspective. You’re looking at big phenomena that
affect your whole population, or a least a big portion of
it. You’re looking at social structures and
institutions. You’re looking at whole civilizations or
societies or populations. And what are you looking for? Well, you’re looking for patterns. You’re trying to find the effects that the
whole big picture have on the life of small groups
and individuals. You’re analyzing large collectives like
cities for broad social trends. And you can get a lot of statistical data
from these big populations. But be careful how you analyze it. Don’t ask a question when you already have
an answer in mind, because you might interpret the data
to prove your point. But, that won’t actually tell you anything
about the population you’re studying. Don’t find the one statistical test that
makes the data fit your story, let the data tell the
story. Macrosociology deals with matters like
war, or poverty, or the health care institution, or international
stuff like the world economy. Functionalism is a social theory that
comes from the macro perspective. Basically, functionalism looks at a
society as a whole, and how the institutions that make up a society adapt to keep the
society stable and functioning. Conflict theory is also a
macroperspective. Real quick, conflict theory is the idea
that societies are made up of institutions that benefit the powerful
and create inequalities, and large groups of people are at odds with each other
until the conflict is resolved and a new social order is created
with equally distributed power. Okay, so that’s the big picture
perspective. Let’s go to the other extreme and check
out microsociology. Kind of sounds like microscope, right? With a microscope you can look at
individual cells or really tiny things. Well, in microsociology you’re looking at
the small scale every day, face to face social interactions between
individuals or maybe small groups. You’re looking at families and schools and
other small social interactions. Unlike macrosociology, in microsociology
you don’t have the same large test group. So microsociology is more of an
interpretive analysis of the society. You look at a sample of your society and
interpret how those individual interactions would affect the larger
patterns of the society, like institutions and social
structures. You can look at how the expectations of a
teacher will affect a student’s grades, or you can look at doctor-patient
interactions, or how family dynamics affect the expression of
prejudiced attitudes. So you can get an idea of microsociology
in practice, you can look at symbolic interactionism, which is a social theory that is a
microperspective. Symbolic interactionism focuses on the
individual and the significance or meaning they give to objects, events, symbols and
other things in their life. Cool, so you have macrosociology starting
from the big picture and seeing how it affects the
individual. And you have microsociology going the
other way, looking at the individual interactions and seeing how
they affect the big picture.

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