If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

Social theories overview (part 2)

Created by Sydney Brown.

Want to join the conversation?

  • leaf green style avatar for user BSnailer
    So wouldn't Feminist Theory be an extension of Conflict Theory? Men would be the Thesis and women are the Antithesis?
    (19 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • purple pi purple style avatar for user Michael
    At the video says that exchange theory is the application of rational choice theory; yet, it seems that rational choice theory attributes a static value to its options and subsequent consequences (i.e. the worth of an option is fixed and independent of it's alternatives); whereas exchange theory paints more of a dynamic view of the value of each opportunity and its ramifications. (e.g. the value of a choice depends on supply and demand of its alternatives, or the value that a person attributes to a choice in a particular situation is liable to change). The only way I can reconcile these is by thinking of the rational choice theory as like the derivative of the person's trajectory; like it is a snapshot of the point when the decision is made; while exchange theory is the function of the persons perceptions over time. Is that really the case, or am I missing something?
    (6 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • male robot hal style avatar for user Abid Ali
      I think you're overthinking this one. Rational choice theory explains how humans will do things that will benefit them overall, while social exchange theory is the application of rational-choice theory involving other humans, e.g., Ryan befriends Josh because he can help him ride a bike.
      (10 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Douglas Browne
    At you state "And structural oppression that views women's subordination as a result of capitalism, patriarchy and racism". How does racism impact women's subordination?
    (2 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • blobby green style avatar for user John Palermo
      Broadly, I'd guess she's referring to Intersectionality, specifically, that a black women's oppression isn't just caused by misogyny, but also mixed with racism. This means that the solutions that would solve white women's oppression, would't help much for a black woman, because the misogyny she experiences is different that the type experienced by white women, due to racism.

      Thats my guess, anyway.
      (8 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Chris Capello
    I don't understand how paying taxes exemplifies a fault in exchange theory. People pay taxes to avoid disapproval in the form of law. Also, isn't exchange theory inherently unfalsifiable in terms of personal decisions, for example; you eat ramen often because you are comfortable making it and enjoy it. It represents the path of least resistance which means highest potential for large rewards w/ least punishments/mistakes.
    (3 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • leafers tree style avatar for user Alexander K
      I agree, it doesn't make sense to label paying taxes and choosing to eat ramen over other food as irrational. It depends on the criteria you use to rationally judge which decision to take. Ultimately you have decided to eat ramen even though it is unhealthier and less tasty because you value your time and convenience more-- which is a cost-benefit analysis (rational choice).
      (1 vote)
  • duskpin sapling style avatar for user Shirley Li
    At , How does racism impact women's subordination? Or do you mean by sexism?
    (2 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • winston default style avatar for user Arieda
      Intersectionality is the idea in sociology that our multiple identities can intersect to cause differing effects in our lives - including causing oppression/subordination.
      I think when Sydney Brown mentioned racism's impact on women's subordination, she was looking at how racism cause differences in the struggles and inequalities of women of different races/ethnicities, and thus, not every intervention for gender equality may work for women of all races.
      (1 vote)
  • leafers ultimate style avatar for user Justin
    Was Foucault a rational choice theorist?
    (1 vote)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • blobby green style avatar for user Bruce Tokona
    has sydney brown published this work so i can read further?
    (1 vote)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • blobby green style avatar for user Carolina Analis Mendez
    is rational choice theory micro or macro ?
    (1 vote)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user

Video transcript

Voiceover: Alright. Here is part two of our social theories overview. I'll quickly sum up feminist theory and rational exchange theories, and you can be on your way. Feminist theory is a macro level, or a big world perspective on society. It focuses on the gender inequalities inherent to patriarchal capitalist societies. In patriarchal societies, men occupy the governing positions, both in the families and in the community at large. Women are marginalized, objectified, oppressed, subordinated and discriminated against. Though, it isn't always apparent. Both women and men are often forced into socially acceptable gender-based roles. The difference is that men are not subjugated because of their categorizations. Feminist theory can focus on the effects of socially constructed gender differences, like how women's experience and social position in social situations differs from mens'. And the different values associated with femininity and masculinity. It can also focus on gender inequalities, where women’s subordination is viewed as an inherent feature of society, because of the way institutions are structured. There’s also gender oppression, where women are not only viewed as unequal to men, but they are actually oppressed and even abused because of it. And structural oppression that views women's subordination as a result of capitalism, patriarchy and racism. Feminist theory does not attempt to replace men at the top of the social ladder, but rather to shed light on the gender inequalities ingrained in our society, in the hopes of achieving equality. Rational choice theory basically states that people always take rational actions, weighing the costs and benefits of each action so that the outcome benefits them the most. A rational choice is part of a pattern of choices that are consistent. Rational choice theory makes three main assumptions. One, completeness, that all actions can be ranked. Two, transitively, that if A is preferable to B, and B is preferable to C, that A is also preferable to C. And three, independence of irrelevant alternatives. That if an additional choice is available, it won't change the relative ranking of the previous choices. If I suddenly have option X, B isn't abruptly better than A. All of this adds up to explain how people choose the best possible option for themselves out of the available selections. Exchange theory is the application of rational choice theory to social interaction. It is used to study family relationships, work relationships, partner selection, parenting and many other interpersonal interactions. There are many assumptions associated with exchange theory, but basically they state that people behave with the goal of maximizing their own rewards while minimizing the punishments. That people have the information they need to make rational choices, within social norms. That self-interest and interdependence guide human interactions. And, that human relationships are formed, because people analyze their interactions using cost-benefit analysis. And along with all that, you have to consider that the standards of what is a reward and what is a punishment, change over time. And, are different from person to person. Society is made of these interactions between people who will behave according to a subjective analysis of rewards and punishments of each possible interaction. There are criticisms of rational choice theory and exchange theory. The first I thought of was, if people actually make rational choice, I certainly don't always, critics ask why anyone would do something to benefit someone else more than themselves. Why would someone follow social norm that were not in their own self-interest? And can you really explain every social structure through the interactions of individuals? They also criticize the reduction of human interactions through a rational process. And the linearization of forming relationships, when it often feels more like a carnival ride of twists and backs and jumps. And, there we have it. That's feminist theory and rational exchange theories. Pretty straightforward, right?