The three sociological perspectives that most modern sociologists use are the symbolic interactionist perspective, the functionalist perspective and the conflict perspective. These perspectives conceptualize society, social forces and human behavior to offer sociologists paradigms of how society influences people, and how people influence society.
On the micro level, the symbolic interactionist perspective focuses on the use of symbols and face-to-face interactions. This perspective allows sociologists to evaluate the meaning of symbols and details in everyday life and how people interact with one another.
The two remaining perspectives, functionalism and conflict theory, operate on the macro level. In a nutshell, functionalism interrogates how each interdependent aspect of society contributes to society's function as a whole. Functionalists believe that society is a system of interconnected parts held together by a social consensus in which members of the society work together to achieve what is best for society as a whole.
In contrast to functionalism, conflict theory focuses on the negative and conflicted nature of society. The conflict perspective interrogates the various aspects of society where certain groups hold power over others and benefit from these imbalanced social arrangements.