​What Differences Lie Between Macro & Micro Sociological Perspectives?

Sociology is a broad topic, therefore widening the scope of theories needed to explain sociological phenomena. No one theory has been successful at the task of explaining the nature of human behaviour in its entirety, thus grasping and satisfying every minute detail. Be that as it may, the various sociological theories propounded by theorists along the timeline of the discipline has been classified or grouped under broad perspectives. This is done while comparing and contrasting details within the varying theories set to explain society. Under classification, the theories are macro, micro and meso sociological perspectives. Meso is simply a fusion of the macro and micro perspectives of sociological theories. However, by virtue of the question, the differences between micro and macro sociological perspectives will be outlined.


Although both theories are found within the scope of sociology, they vary with the focus of understanding human behaviour. Thus, there is a difference in concentration of attention so long as the perspectives are concerned. Macro sociology focuses on “large scale patterns and trends within the overall social structure, system and population” [Nicki Lisa Cole, Ph.D, 2017] while micro sociology “focuses on smaller groups, patterns and trends, typically at the community level and in the context of the everyday lives and experiences of people.” [Nicki Lisa Cole, Ph.D, 2017]. This simply means the macro perspective is more poised to have studies on giant corporations, vast industries with questions like “how does the car industry affect and gain from society?” While micro sociology will narrow its focus to individuals within the car manufacturing industry, that which inculcates questions like “how does the car business affect its employees?Emile Durkheim [a macro theorist] for instance does not look at the problem of suicide from the individual’s perspective [the usual norm when suicide is entirely blamed on the victim/individual] but looks at it from the broad perspective of society. Thus, he connects suicide to an individual’s relationship with other people and outlines various type of suicides by using this approach. “Melancholy suicide – this is connected with a general state of extreme depression and exaggerated sadness, causing the patient no longer to realize sanely the bonds which connect him with people and things about him. Pleasures no longer attract.” [Emile Durkheim, On Suicide: A Study in Sociology, 1897]

The Place of Man

Power and strength of the individual man becomes the conflict with this regard. Macro sociologists believe man is a puppet of society while the micro sociologists on the contrary say man creates society. The Macro sociologist has that stand [man is a puppet of society] because society determines a lot of man’s future action. When man is born, he is born empty [without culture] and is gradually forced without will to live by the norms and values of society through the normal learning process of socialization. It’s for this same reason that Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins questions religion, putting it this way when asked “what if you are wrong?” after a reading of the God Delusion at Randolph-Macon woman’s College in 2006. He answers “You happen to have been brought up, I presume, in a Christian faith. You know what it’s like to not believe in a particular faith because you’re not a Muslim. You’re not a Hindu. Why aren’t you a Hindu? Because you happen to have been brought up in America, not in India. If you had been brought up in India, you’d be a Hindu. If you had been brought up in Denmark in the time of the Vikings, you’d be believing in Wotan or Thor. If you were brought up in classical Greece, you’d be believing in Zeus. If you were brought up in central Africa you’d be believing in the great Juju up the mountain. There’s no particular reason to pick on the Judeo-Christian god, in which by the sheerest accident you happen to have been brought up and, and ask me the question, “What if I’m wrong?” What if you’re wrong about the great Juju at the bottom of the sea?” Thus, we are defined by society whether we like it or not. However, micro-sociologists do not go by this because they argue that man makes society, man is society, man actually defines norms and values, and therefore responsible for society. They usually ask; “what will society be without man?” and answer to that is usually self evident; Society will be nothing.

Differences In Theories Inculcated 

Macro and micro sociology do not have theories crossing each other. The main theories found in macro sociology are the functionalist and conflict theories. The functionalist theory starts on the premise that society is a system or structure comprising of varying structures or systems in themselves that culminate or come together to meet particular needs of a society in question. And that the functioning of every facet in society goes in the long run to affect the nature and efficiency [stability] of society. So for instance, a telecommunication industry will have many telecommunication network companies and within these companies there will be a gazillion departments inculcated all to provide society with a technologically enhanced form of human communication, and that when a telecommunication network goes wrong it goes on to affect the giant telecom industry. Conflict theorists on the other hand, study societal change by virtue of the inevitable conflict that arises within classes found in society. It looks at society not from the perspective of the individual but from the perspective of battles between differing classes. A class is “a group of people sharing common relations to labor and the means of production.” [Marxists.org, 2017]. However, micro-sociologists have Symbolic Interactionism theories. And this looks at society from the perspective of the individual. Symbolic Interactionism is “a school of thought in sociology that explains social behaviour in terms of how people interact with each other via symbols; in this view, social structures are best understood in terms of such individual interactions.” [Chegg Study, 2017]

Penetration into Fields Contrary to Sociology

Macro sociology considering it’s nature is more poised to be restricted within the scope of sociology because the main focus of sociology is on that which affects society, how societies are formed and deformed. However, micro sociology is a sociological perspective that looks at society from the perspective of the individual. Be that as it may, there is a field of study within the frontier of social science that studies behaviour by virtue of the individual. That field is psychology. Psychology is “the scientific study of the human mind and it’s functions, especially those affecting human behaviour in a given context.” [English Oxford Dictionaries, 2017] Thus, micro sociology is more poised to enter into the territory of an already existing social science meant to study human behaviour by virtue of the individual human’s mind, because of its approach to studying society from the perspective of the individual. No wonder names like Erik Erikson and Sigmund Freud end up in certain sociological studies.

Achaab Daniel ABALANSA
Twitter: @AcHaaB_dAn
IG: achaab_dan_gh
Email: achaabdan@gmail.com


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