The conflict and functionalist perspectives focus primarily on microlevel (focusing on small groups)analysis,whereas the symbolic interactionist approaches are based on a macrolevel (examining whole societies,large-scale social structures,and social systems)analysis.
According to Robert K.Merton,a manifest function of education is the transmission of knowledge and skills from one generation to the next;a latent function is the establishment of social relations and networks.
C.Wright Mills believed that the most important decisions in the United States are made largely behind the scenes by the power elite-a small clique composed of the top corporate,political,and military officials.
One of Max Weber's most useful concepts is decentralization-the process by which the modern world has come to be increasingly dominated by structures devoted to efficiency,calculability,predictability,and technological control.
Sociologist Emile Durkheim observed that rapid social change and a more specialized division of labor produce strains in society.These strains lead to a breakdown in traditional organization,values,and authority and to a dramatic increase in anomie.
The sociological imagination helps us place personal troubles,such as losing one's job or overspending on credit cards,into a larger social context,where we can distinguish whether and how personal troubles may be related to public issues.
According to the functionalist perspective,societies develop social structures (institutions)that persist because they play a part in helping society survive.These institutions include the family,education,government,religion,and the economy.