The Comparison of Micro and Macro Theories of Sociology

What is the difference between the general perspectives? How does the work of Ritzer attempt to overcome this problem?.

Micro theories examine the processes of face-to-face contact among individuals and personal points-of-view in society; whereas, the macro theories deal with large-scale social events of society – meaning things that have a public concern.
The theories that are apart of the micro-level are symbolic interactionism, dramaturgy, ethnomethodology, and exchange theory. Symbolic interaction is an individual-based theory that uses constructed symbols, such as language and gestures, to which people give meaning in their everyday interactions. Dramaturgy, best stated by Goffman (1959), is what actors portray on a theatrical stage is similar to the way people act in society. Ethnomethodology is basic common-sense used in for general situations in everyday life (Ritzer, 77). Exchange theory is a given relationship is found to be attractive whereas the rewards tend to outweigh punishment (Blau, 1964).

Structural functionalism and conflict theory are two types of macro-theories. Structural functionalism (Perrucci, 1983) has three main ideas: 1) society is a system containing interdependent and interacting parts bound together in time and space, 2) shared values among members of the system are social “glue” that helps hold it together, 3) and systems have a need for stability and therefore attempt the parts working together harmoniously. Conflict theory is the belief that society contains basic inequalities in wealth, power, and prestige (Coser, 1967; Dahrendorf, 1959).

Ritzer, like many other sociologists, wants to disintegrate the split between the micro and macro sociology. Ritzer attempts to do this by “adding on” to Gurvitch”s insights. Ritzer views the micro-macro issue, not by subjective-objective continuum, but the phenomena as subjective or objective; therefore, concluding that there are four major levels of analysis (See Table I) that are a product of dialectical interrelationships (Ritzer, 1996).

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