Sociologists generally follow two approaches in the study of society: macrosociology and microsociology. In similar fashion to micro- and macroeconomics, the main difference between the two approaches is the scale of their study objects, with macrosociology focusing on the larger social system, while microsociology is concerned about individual human interactions and decision making. As a result, the two branches concentrate on different social issues, which are interconnected.
Macrosociology Origins and Definition
According to Paul Gingrich, professor at the University of Regina, the classical theories establishing sociology as an academic discipline developed in late 19th century by the likes of Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim. These sociologists tried to understand the new social world of industrial, urban society, thus examining its structure, population and large organizations (including the church and the industrial workplaces) on a large scale. Since then, macrosociology became the branch of social science focusing on universal issues that affect the whole population of a given social structure.
Prominent examples of macrosocial concerns are social class, how and why people have different wealth and educational or professional opportunities, the arrangement of labor, if and how people work and the rewards, the role of religion in society, the role of women in society and the purpose of an organized legal system. In addition to studying the structure, macrosociologists are also concerned about social change, focusing on large scale movements -- the "average action" of large social groups.
Microsociology is the study of what people do, think and how they interact with each other in their daily lives. Therefore, the issues concerning this approach are the symbols people use in face-to-face interactions (communicated via words, body language and emotions), the different interpretation of social facts by the diverse society (consisting of children and educated or uneducated men of various backgrounds) or how individuals reach a personal decision.
Interconnection Between Macro and Micro Issues
The study of macrosocial and microsocial issues is different, as they have a different focus and methods of study. However, both are interconnected by the simple fact that the sum of individual men, women and children form society, while the social structure affects individuals. For example, a social change (macrosocial issue) occurs when lots of individuals accept an idea, how an individual comes across an idea and why he is persuaded, are parts of microsociology. Likewise, the ability of a man to understand the world and make free choices is directly affected by a society's educational system that macrosociology examines.
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