Complementary Perspectives in Sociology

In addition to the three theoretical paradigms previously presented, sociologists use many different models to examine, describe, and understand society and human behavior. Some of the more popular, which are normally used as adjuncts to the above paradigms, include the cross‐species perspective, cross‐cultural perspective, statistical perspective, historical perspective, religious perspective, and feminist perspective. Each of these is limited in its ability to comprehensively describe society and behavior. Instead, they complement the other, larger, paradigms.

The cross-species perspective


Obviously, human beings belong to the animal kingdom. The cross‐species perspective considers the similarities in and differences between human social behavior and that of other animals. A comparison of social behaviors across species can provide valuable insights into the nature of human society.

The cross-cultural perspective


The study of sociology must address cultural differences and issues. Research studies and social investigations have determined that beliefs, practices, and values certainly differ considerably from culture to culture. That which is acceptable to one group may not be to another. Hence, the cross‐cultural perspective deals with the comparative nature of customs and standards of behavior within a community or system.

Remaining alert to cultural differences increases opportunities to challenge gender‐role stereotypes, or beliefs within a society as to how members of each sex should appear and act. The cross‐cultural perspective, then, takes into account the many variations that exist across societies and cultures.

The statistical perspective


The statistical perspective is based on the frequency of occurrence of an attitude or practice within a society. Although extremes occur within any group, statistical measurement is concerned with the characteristics of the largest number of members of a society—that is, the average members' characteristics.

The historical perspective


The historical perspective deals with social issues from the point of view of historical attitudes, values, practices, and contexts. Making sense of the many complex issues associated with society is easier when one examines the roles that such issues have played in history.

The religious perspective


The religious perspective considers the effects that religious doctrines, scriptures, and spirituality have on individuals and society. For people raised in a religious environment, the teachings, morals, and values

set forth by organized religion can play a powerful role for life, be it healthy, harmful, or neutral.

The feminist perspective


The feminist perspective is concerned with gender differences and the limitations associated with traditional, male‐dominated theories of society. Feminists also claim that their insights provide additional information about the experiences of both males and females. The perspective has received criticism for overstating the influence and prevalence of male power and control over women. Critics point out that many men only appear to have power and control over women.