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Posted: September 7th, 2023

Refer to Chapter. 1 to review the three major sociological perspectives

Refer to Chapter. 1 to review the three major sociological perspectives.

Use all three perspectives (functionalism, conflict and interactionism) to analyze any current issue:

(Global warming, terrorism, gender roles, personal branding, science and technology, utopian society, economy, leadership, discrimination, relationships, health, gun control, immigration, disabilities, minimum wage, abortion, cohabitation, etc.).

Write a 700- to 1,000-word essay in which you complete the following:

Give a brief introduction that identifies the issue you have chosen and why.
Describe in three separate paragraphs how each perspective would view or explain the issue.
Include elements of culture and how humans learn, develop, and become integrated into society.
Provide a conclusion that discusses which perspective you think is most applicable to the issue or how the three perspectives complement one another in understanding the issue.
Format your assignment according to APA guidelines.

Global warming has become one of the most pressing issues facing society today. Rising global temperatures are causing widespread environmental changes that threaten both human and natural systems. In this essay, I will analyze global warming through functionalism, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism—three major theoretical perspectives in sociology. Understanding global warming from these sociological viewpoints can provide valuable insights into both its causes and potential solutions.
Functionalism views society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability (Macionis, 2017). From a functionalist perspective, global warming undermines the functioning of the social system in several ways. First, climate change threatens important societal institutions like agriculture, public health systems, and infrastructure (Karl et al., 2009). Disruptions to these institutions can destabilize communities and economies. Second, rising temperatures interfere with humans’ ability to adapt to their environment. As natural systems change faster than human adaptation, societal stress and conflict may increase (Adger et al., 2014). Third, functionalists might argue that overconsumption of fossil fuels that cause climate change is a dysfunction that developed from the industrialization of modern societies (Harrison, 2011). To address this issue functionally, societies must transition to more sustainable energy and transportation systems to maintain social equilibrium.
Conflict Theory

Conflict theorists view society as characterized by inequality of power that advantages some groups over others (Collins, 1975). From this perspective, global warming is both caused by and exacerbates existing social inequalities and power struggles. First, wealthier nations and social groups have contributed most to rising CO2 emissions through heavy industrialization and consumer lifestyles, yet poorer groups bear more of the costs through impacts like rising food prices, loss of livelihoods, and natural disasters (Roberts & Parks, 2007). Second, the fossil fuel industry maintains significant political power and resists reforms that threaten profits, delaying needed climate policies (McCright & Dunlap, 2000). Finally, conflict theorists might argue that gender, racial, and class inequalities shape which social groups are most vulnerable to climate impacts (Crenshaw, 1989). To address inequalities, conflict theorists call for political and economic restructuring to empower marginalized groups and curb corporate influence over climate policy.
Symbolic Interactionism
Symbolic interactionism focuses on how people interpret and act based on shared cultural symbols and meanings (Blumer, 1969). From this perspective, cultural symbols and social interactions play a key role in both causing and addressing global warming. First, consumer culture promotes unsustainable lifestyles and values excessive consumption of energy-intensive goods as symbols of social status and identity (Shove, 2010). Second, fossil fuel companies strategically use public relations campaigns to cast doubt on the scientific consensus and promote “climate skepticism” as a cultural identity (Antonio & Brulle, 2011). Finally, grassroots environmental movements effectively use symbols like global climate strikes to raise awareness, shift public opinion, and place pressure on politicians (McCright & Dunlap, 2010). To change behaviors, symbolic interactionists emphasize the need to culturally redefine sustainability, responsibility, and human-nature relationships through social movements, media campaigns, and grassroots organizing.
In summary, the three major sociological perspectives offer complementary ways to understand both the root causes of and potential solutions to global warming. Functionalism highlights societal dysfunctions like overconsumption that drive climate change. Conflict theory reveals how power imbalances shape climate policies and impacts. And symbolic interactionism shows how cultural meanings and social interactions influence behaviors and political will. While no single perspective provides a complete picture, together they demonstrate how addressing climate change requires transforming social structures, relations of power, and the cultural symbols that underpin unsustainable ways of life. With sociological insights, societies can build more equitable and sustainable systems for future generations.
Adger, W. N., Barnett, J., Brown, K., Marshall, N., & O’brien, K. (2013). Cultural dimensions of climate change impacts and adaptation. Nature climate change, 3(2), 112-117.
Antonio, R. J., & Brulle, R. J. (2011). The unbearable lightness of politics: Climate change denial and political polarization. The Sociological Quarterly, 52(2), 195-202.
Blumer, H. (1969). Symbolic interactionism: Perspective and method. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Collins, R. (1975). Conflict sociology: Toward an explanatory science. New York: Academic Press.
Crenshaw, K. (1989). Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics. U. Chi. Legal F., 139.
Harrison, C. (2011). Neo-functionalism and energy policy: Explaining the EU “internalization” of renewable energy promotion. Journal of European Public Policy, 18(1), 109-126.
Karl, T. R., Melillo, J. M., & Peterson, T. C. (Eds.). (2009). Global climate change impacts in the United States. Cambridge University Press.
Macionis, J. J. (2017). Sociology. Pearson.
McCright, A. M., & Dunlap, R. E. (2000). Challenging global warming as a social problem: An analysis of the conservative movement’s counter-claims. Social Problems, 47(4), 499-522.
McCright, A. M., & Dunlap, R. E. (2010). Anti-reflexivity: The American conservative movement’s success in undermining climate science and policy. Theory, Culture & Society, 27(2-3), 100-133.
Roberts, J. T., & Parks, B. C. (2007). A climate of injustice: Global inequality, north-south politics, and climate policy. Mit Press.
Shove, E. (2010). Beyond the ABC: climate change policy and theories of social change. Environment and planning A, 42(6), 1273-1285.

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