Micro sociology and Macro sociology – Explanation

Sociology can be understood as the study of the social structures, their functioning, and development in society. Micro sociology and macro sociology are its two levels of analysis in studying society.

The branch of sociology which is concerned with the study of small scale processes going on in the society like social interaction between humans and agencies is called micro-sociology. It focuses on the individual social agency and involves a small scale or face to face conversations between small groups or individuals taking place within families or other institutions like schools, offices, hospitals, etc. Interpretive analysis forms the basis of micro-sociology along with the philosophy of phenomenology. The sample of a society can be used to interpret how small individual interactions would affect the larger social structures and institutions. The theory of symbolic interactionism is an example of a micro perspective which focuses on individuals and the significance or meaning they confer upon objects, events, and other things in everyday life.

George Gurvitch coined the term micro-sociology in the year 1939. He borrowed the expression from microphysics. It focussed more on individual interaction and group thinking instead of the behavior and interaction of a large social group. So, it can also be seen as providing an extra dimension between the studies of social psychology, anthropology, and sociology. Concepts like social role and social status constitute the main components of social structure at the micro-level.

On the other hand, macro sociology is the approach to sociology that analyses the social systems and populations on a large scale. It studies the greater phenomena that affect the entire population or at least a large part of it. The object of its study might be the social structures, the institutions, families, or the entire population. It tries to identify the patterns that might help in understanding how the larger picture affects the lives of individuals and groups. It is based on statistical or empirical observation, unlike micro-sociology. It deals with topics like war, poverty, demography, healthcare, etc.

Four major theoretical strategies are included within macro sociology. They are: the idealist strategy that aims to explain the basic features of social life with respect to human’s creative capacity, the materialist strategy that seeks to explain human social life on the basis of their practical and material conditions of existence, structural functionalism that views society as a whole or complex system of interrelated and interdependent parts (institutions), each of with which affects the others, and lastly the conflict theory which believes that a society is characterized by individuals and groups who are constantly seeking to fulfill their needs by acquiring scarce goods and thus creating conflicts.

Macro sociology and micro sociology have their own benefits but are nevertheless not free from having drawbacks. Macro sociology runs the risk of missing out smaller important details by only considering large entities. They often consider the larger social structures as having no connections with individuals. Again, although micro-sociology does study the smaller facts of social order, they might fail to consider the effects that the larger forces have on the individuals.

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