The three major theoretical paradigms in sociology include the conflict paradigm, the functionalist paradigm, which is also known as structural functionalism and the symbolic interactionist paradigm. Paradigms are broad perspectives or viewpoints that allow social scientists to have a variety of tools to describe the behavior of the society, and be able to create hypothesis and theories.
The conflict paradigm is used to explain factors such as the socioeconomic inequality, including poverty and wealthy, ageism and sexism. Most importantly, this paradigm is used to describe the inequalities that are found in all societies all around the world. The conflict paradigm is based on the idea that every society experiences inequality based on the social differences between the dominant group and the other groups in the society.
Those who subscribe to the ideas of the functionalist paradigm view society as socially stable and describes the mechanisms that are used to maintain social stability. It explains the various ways in which the institutions of the society, such as family and religion, work together to form social solidarity.
For those who follow the symbolic interactionist paradigm, society is viewed as small groups of people that interact according to how the various cultural symbols, such as written and spoken language, are interpreted by people in the society. However, the major interest of this paradigm is the interpretation of the cultural symbols.