The Three Traditions and Their Tasks

Be sure to write your percentage results down so that you can see how your sociology style evolves over time as you read and reflect on various social thinkers. You may take the Sociology Style Tool as many times as you like, as often as you like. For quick reference, here is another summary of the three sociological theory traditions.


One tradition sees society as a type of organism, with integrated systems building it up. Just as a human body has a respiratory system, skeletal system, muscular system, and so forth; societies similarly have familial systems, economic systems, political systems, and so on.

A complex system of highway overpasses moving people around a city.

Society is like an organism built with integrated systems.

Consider how complex traffic patterns almost resemble arteries in a body.


Another tradition sees society as a type of theater, with sets of symbols that give meaning to actors. Just as when watching a play, there are character types, roles, scripts, costumes, and props --the society we live in has it's own version of these things that shape human behavior.

Society is like a theater full of symbols.

Consider what all these signs, flags, and ads mean within a given culture.


The third tradition sees society as a type of battlefield, with groups in ongoing struggles for social and economic advantages. These struggles fall along several lines, such as tensions between groups based on class, gender, race, religion, sexuality, nation, political parties, and more.

Society is a battlefield with groups in struggle.

Consider these luxury condos next to a slum and the tensions that likely exist.


How do you see society, is it more like an organism, a theater, or a battlefield?