What is Reflection Theory?

What is Reflection Theory?

The Need for Culture

Reflection theory is a complex notion and its definition is difficult depending upon who is defining it. But in its most basic form, reflection theory states that people develop within their social classes and patterns of society due to the environment and culture they have been exposed. Specifically, society develops from the individual level as a result of culture. The defining of reflection theory falls into two basic theories. The two theories explaining reflection theory are functionalism and conflict theory.

There are two basic ideas in accordance with reflection theory. The first concept is pertains to the nature of humans. Reflection theory posits that humans have a need to understand and interpret the social world they live in. The way that this need is fulfilled is through culture. The interaction between culture and society provides an individual with balance between individual freedom and constraint of society. Culture also provides an input mechanism through which people can learn to change. This is a functionalist view of reflection theory.

In contrast to the functionalist theory of reflection, conflict theorist view reflection in terms of culture providing a mirror of the social world. Within this view people are considered to be creative creatures that can produce ideas but they are limited by the material conditions in which they live. More specifically, the culture is a form of information concerning the material being of the society. For instance, Americans might be seen as affluent people and their culture is one of overindulgence and waste. 


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