SocialPerspectives on Teenage Pregnancy
SociologicalPerspectives on Teenage Pregnancy
Thetheoretical perspectives in sociology provide us with differentangles to view and explain the social world. The three majortheoretic perspectives include the functionalist perspective, theconflict perspective, and the symbolic interactionist perspective.Each theory provides different perspectives to see and understand thesocial world. In this paper, I will use a social problem that is,teenage pregnancy, to broadly elaborate the three sociologicaltheories. Using the developed typology, I will compare and contrastthe sociological perspectives of functionalism, conflict and symbolicinteractionism, stating their perspectives regarding the socialproblem. Moreover, I will discuss the pros and cons arising from eachperspective as discussed in Unit 2 of the Interactive Units. Teenagepregnancy is a world crisis with about a million teenagers becomingpregnant each year (Linders & Bogard, 2014). According to thethree sociological perspectives, teenage pregnancy can be viewed indifferent angles.
Accordingto functionalism, society is made up of a system of dependent partsthat work in unison to achieve a social equilibrium. The theoryexplains that each social state contributes to the functioning ofsociety. Teenage pregnancy provides a state of the family,socialising and reproducing among teenagers. Teenage pregnancy isexplained in both the manifest (intended) and latent (unintended)functions. Latent functions are such as pregnant teenagers receivetoo much attention also, their lives will drastically change to thatof a parent and lastly, most are likely to drop out of school due tomuch pressure and mean judgements. However, the functionalism theorysees teenage pregnancy as positive effects of society too forinstance, couples that cannot bear children are able to adopt fromteenage parents. Moreover, teenage parents tend to be more mature andresponsible as compared to their age mates, which is a positivelatent function. An example of a manifest function is how teenagepregnancy traps boys into the relationship before and after the childis born. A dysfunction of teenage pregnancy I that it costs the stategovernment too much resources. In 2009, the federal governmentinvested over $36 billion to support families started by teenagers(Linders & Bogard, 2014), this, in turn, costs the whole world,as people pay taxes to cater for such needs in society.
Theorigin of this theory is traced from the ideologies of Karl Max.Unlike the functionalist perspective that sees society as made up ofparts working in unison, the conflict perspective sees society as asystem composed of different groups with varying interests andcompeting for resources and power. Teenage pregnancy is a cause ofmany conflicts in society for instance, school-teenage pregnancyconflict, morals-teenage pregnancy conflict and religion-teenagepregnancy conflict (Linders & Bogard, 2014), just to mention buta few. It gets really tough for a pregnant teenager to attend schooldue to stigma and pressure, making the environment unbearable. Peers,parents, religious leaders and our mentors teach us morals and mainlyemphasise on the need for abstinence until marriage. A pregnantteenager is considered to have abandoned the taught morals, which isa conflict. Lastly, Religion strictly condemns teenage sex andpregnancy. Therefore, teenage pregnancies defy religious teachingsregarding sex before marriage.
Boththe conflict and the functionalist perspectives show how broadsocietal aspects influence the social world they look at the societyat large and point out how social problems such as teenage pregnancy,are pretentious at the institutional level. This social analysislevel is referred to as macro sociology. However, the symbolicInteractionist perspective is concerned with the social dynamics ofpeople who interact in small groups. This social analysis level isreferred to as micro sociology. This theory was influenced by worksof early philosophers and sociologists such as Charles Cooley andGeorge Simmel. According to symbolic interactionism, human beingsrespond to how they are defined rather that the objective situation.A Pregnant teenager is defined as “irresponsible” by adults or as‘sluts” by other teenagers.
Inconclusion, apart from teenage pregnancy, our society is faced withnumerous social problems that need to viewed and understood indifferent perspectives so that the correct approach is set towardsmitigating the issue. Sociology has three different perspectives thatare crucial in explaining the social problems such as teenagepregnancy the functionalist, conflict and the symbolicinteractionism. The three sociological perspectives share asimilarity in that, they all try to explain the different socialaspects of society. In my view, teenage pregnancy is best describedby the functionalist perspective as it weighs both the pros and consof the issue.
Linders,A., & Bogard, C. (2014). Teenage Pregnancy as a Social Problem:Internationalhandbook of adolescent pregnancy.147-157. Springer US.