There are many theories in sociology to get the better understanding of a society. Many things impact an individual’s behaviour, lifestyles, relationship and much more. Technology is one of the many things that affect the people. Internet is used worldwide and we can use sociology to determine what importance and place it holds in the society. To understand this invention and implication the society better, this paper will cover upon the three well-known theories which are’ Conflict, functionalism, and symbolic internationalism theories. There three theories look at the internet from different view point such as from a micro level and macro level. Functionalism focuses on the society as a whole, where as conflict theory focuses on group within that society, and symbol interactional focuses on individuals in the group and society. Thus, the view point changes depending on the population and the perspective.
One of the important perspectives is a structural-functionalism. This approach focuses on “various components of society without prioritizing or assessing their importance to the social system as a whole; in effect all elements of a society are weighed equally” (Naiman, 2004; pp.18). In terms of internet, a functionalist would see the internet as a resource that brings efficiency in the lives of individuals for the reason that it is convenient. It also allows people to interact with one another around the world. A functionalist would ask questions regarding the function of the internet in the society would be: how does the internet help people access their provisions faster? How does it help people acquire knowledge and how can services be accessible to the demanding population? Thus, it mainly considers the benefits for all instead of few individuals.
The internet is more efficiently used now a days because it saves one’s time. An individual can spend few minutes online, booking a flight ticket instead of going to the travel agency in-person or calling the customer services and going through a long hectic procedure. As the technology gets advance, it plays even greater role in shaping the lives of the individuals. Also, some people may wish to visit the bureaucracies. However, others may not have the time to visit the offices due to family responsibilities or for other reasons. Functionalist theorist would see a vast benefit when it comes to administrative related online services. It eliminates the waiting list and makes life easier for the citizens and it will take less space in the bureaucracies. The administrative application process also saves papers from being wasted. One can simply send an application online instead of filling out paper work. A contributor to this perspective, Talcott Parsons, “focused on the socialization process, whereby society instills within individuals an outlook in which it is possible for them to pursue their own self-interest while still serving the interests of the system as a whole” (George and Goodman). In this case, the individuals get their work done fast online and it also helps the environmental aspect, which is beneficial to the general population. Further there are many resources online. This perspective comes into conflict with the conflict theory.
A Conflict theorist looks at inequality of an individual or groups such as class, gender, and race. Conflict theory put emphasis on the significance of “interests over norms and values, and the ways in which the pursuit of interests generated various types of conflict as normal aspects of social life, rather than abnormal or dysfunctional occurrences” (Marshall, 1998). Internet is essential now days for everyone regardless of the age group. However, a conflict theorist would view Internet to have inaccurate information, unaffordable for everyone, and brings alienation in the life of workers. The conflict theorist would ask questions such as, which group would benefit from the internet access? And how is inequality form from the accessibility of internet?
Although most people have access to the internet at home, there are some who are not provided with the same advantages. This may become an issue for those individuals because they might have to visit the libraries or their school to do their work. However, it is not always possible due to the expenditure on transportation, unless it is a walking distance. A conflict theorist would look at this issue and consider it as inequitable because an individual has to go through a lot of struggle. The blame may be put on the government because the tax rate should be reduced to help everyone have an easy access to the internet. Everyone should have equal opportunities. Thus many questions would come from a conflict theorist at this point, such as; does everyone have the equal opportunities? Can everyone afford the internet, or most importantly the computer in the first place? This is simply one issue that can be covered from this perspective, however there are many more such as copyright issues, online services (causing isolation from workplace and clients), and much more. Now to understand the internet from a micro level, symbolic interactional theory can be taken into an account…