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Principles of Sociology 6
Social Interaction
Basic Definitions
• In Chapter 4 (Society), we learned about social
structure and macro-level institutions.
• In this chapter, we continue looking at social
structure, but this time we focus on the micro-
level aspects.
• social interaction = the foundational give-and-
take between members of a society that is the
basis for all social relationships and groups.
Components of Social Structure
• status = any socially defined position held by a member of
society.
– A person can hold more than one status at the same time.
– status set = all the statuses a person occupies at a given time.
– ascribed status = one is born with it or receives it involuntarily.
– achieved status = assumed voluntarily through merit or choice.
– master status = the status that dominates a person’s other statuses and
determines their position in society (as viewed by others).
– status symbols = material items that indicate status.
Physical Disability as Master Status
• Physical disability works
in much the same ways
as class, gender, or race
in defining people in the
eyes of others.
• How do you think the
loss of an arm or a leg
affects a person's social
identity and sense of
self?
Components of Social Structure
• role = a set of expectations for someone who occupies a given
status.
– role expectation = society’s idea of the way that a specific role
ought to be played.
– role performance = how a role is actually played out by a person.
– role set = the multiple roles held by a person.
– role conflict = occurs when the expectations arising from two or
more of your social statuses contradict each other.
– role strain = difficulties caused when a single status imposes
conflicting demands and expectations.
– role exit = process of disengagement from a role that is central to
one’s identity in order to establish a new identity.
Roles: Examples
• role expectation vs. role performance
– I get excited when lecturing when a student raises her
hand because I think I am about to hear a meaningful
question or comment (my expectation of the role
“student”), but I am quickly disappointed when instead I
hear, “Is this going to be on the test?” (the typical
performance of the role “student”).
• role exit
– A person seeking sex-reassignment surgery.
– A mother raises three children and they are now all
grown and she must decide what to do with her life
(“empty nest syndrome”).
Roles: Examples
• role conflict
– A student has to carefully balance their job (role #1:
employee) with their full course load (role #2: student).
– A police officer (role #1: police officer) catches their own
child (role #2: parent) selling drugs.
– Many jobs will not allow employees (role #1) who are
spouses (role #2) to work together in order to avoid role
conflict.
• role strain
– A student (a single role) has to balance studying for
three final exams in the same week.
Components of Social Structure
• social network = series of relationships
that links a person directly to others, and
indirectly links them to still more people.
– networking = intentionally involving oneself in
social networks.
– digital networks: today, people often maintain
networks electronically.
Social Construction
• social construction of reality (Berger & Luckmann) =
the process by which “reality” is shaped by the
subjective perceptions of people in social
interactions.
– Our reactions to others are based on meaning that we
attach to their behavior.
– Our perception of reality is shaped by our perceptions,
evaluations, presuppositions, and influences.
– Thomas theorem = situations that are defined as real
are real in their consequences.
“Reality” is More Flexible Than You Think!
CONSIDER: a new movie about police and criminals is showing. On opening night,
there is an off-duty police officer on the left side of the theater, a woman who
survived a violent crime last year on the right, and a man who got out of jail that
morning in the middle section. Although each of them is watching the same
movie, they are NOT “seeing” the same movie, are they?
It’s all about perspective!
Because perceptions and assumptions often shape
what is considered “reality,” sociologists ask an
important question about every social scene …
What is the definition of the situation?
EXAMPLES: The Thomas Theorem
“War of the Worlds” broadcast
In 1938, people were injured in a
mass panic because they thought
that a radio drama of an alien
invasion was a news broadcast!
Charles Manson
In the 1970s, Charles Manson led a
group on a murder spree because he
believed that he heard messages in
the Beatles’ song “Helter Skelter.”
Social Construction
• Ethnomethodology
– Study of the way people make sense of their
everyday surroundings.
– Exploration of the process of making sense of social
encounters.
– Argues that it is useless to investigate society “out
there” because that “reality” is constructed by
people – therefore, we must investigate the
processes of construction and communication.
– Comes very close to social psychology.
Constructing Reality
• How we act or what we see in our
surroundings depends on our interests.
• Social background also affects what we
see.
• People build reality from the surrounding
culture.
• Because cultural systems are marked by
diversity and even outright conflict,
reality construction always involves
tensions and choices.
• Here women confront starkly different
definitions of what is “feminine.”
NOTE
Your textbook covers Goffman’s
Dramaturgical Theory in this chapter.
However, we already covered this in
the previous unit (Chapter 5), so you
don’t need to worry about it here.
Constructing Reality
• nonverbal communication = social
communication between persons without
using words.
• Visual cues (gestures, appearances, demeanor)
• Vocal features (inflection, volume, pitch)
• Environmental factors (use of space, position)
–personal space = the immediate area
surrounding a person that the person claims as
private.

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Week 5: Social Interaction

  • 1. Principles of Sociology 6 Social Interaction
  • 2. Basic Definitions • In Chapter 4 (Society), we learned about social structure and macro-level institutions. • In this chapter, we continue looking at social structure, but this time we focus on the micro- level aspects. • social interaction = the foundational give-and- take between members of a society that is the basis for all social relationships and groups.
  • 3. Components of Social Structure • status = any socially defined position held by a member of society. – A person can hold more than one status at the same time. – status set = all the statuses a person occupies at a given time. – ascribed status = one is born with it or receives it involuntarily. – achieved status = assumed voluntarily through merit or choice. – master status = the status that dominates a person’s other statuses and determines their position in society (as viewed by others). – status symbols = material items that indicate status.
  • 4. Physical Disability as Master Status • Physical disability works in much the same ways as class, gender, or race in defining people in the eyes of others. • How do you think the loss of an arm or a leg affects a person's social identity and sense of self?
  • 5. Components of Social Structure • role = a set of expectations for someone who occupies a given status. – role expectation = society’s idea of the way that a specific role ought to be played. – role performance = how a role is actually played out by a person. – role set = the multiple roles held by a person. – role conflict = occurs when the expectations arising from two or more of your social statuses contradict each other. – role strain = difficulties caused when a single status imposes conflicting demands and expectations. – role exit = process of disengagement from a role that is central to one’s identity in order to establish a new identity.
  • 6. Roles: Examples • role expectation vs. role performance – I get excited when lecturing when a student raises her hand because I think I am about to hear a meaningful question or comment (my expectation of the role “student”), but I am quickly disappointed when instead I hear, “Is this going to be on the test?” (the typical performance of the role “student”). • role exit – A person seeking sex-reassignment surgery. – A mother raises three children and they are now all grown and she must decide what to do with her life (“empty nest syndrome”).
  • 7. Roles: Examples • role conflict – A student has to carefully balance their job (role #1: employee) with their full course load (role #2: student). – A police officer (role #1: police officer) catches their own child (role #2: parent) selling drugs. – Many jobs will not allow employees (role #1) who are spouses (role #2) to work together in order to avoid role conflict. • role strain – A student (a single role) has to balance studying for three final exams in the same week.
  • 8. Components of Social Structure • social network = series of relationships that links a person directly to others, and indirectly links them to still more people. – networking = intentionally involving oneself in social networks. – digital networks: today, people often maintain networks electronically.
  • 9.
  • 10.
  • 11. Social Construction • social construction of reality (Berger & Luckmann) = the process by which “reality” is shaped by the subjective perceptions of people in social interactions. – Our reactions to others are based on meaning that we attach to their behavior. – Our perception of reality is shaped by our perceptions, evaluations, presuppositions, and influences. – Thomas theorem = situations that are defined as real are real in their consequences.
  • 12. “Reality” is More Flexible Than You Think! CONSIDER: a new movie about police and criminals is showing. On opening night, there is an off-duty police officer on the left side of the theater, a woman who survived a violent crime last year on the right, and a man who got out of jail that morning in the middle section. Although each of them is watching the same movie, they are NOT “seeing” the same movie, are they?
  • 13. It’s all about perspective!
  • 14. Because perceptions and assumptions often shape what is considered “reality,” sociologists ask an important question about every social scene … What is the definition of the situation?
  • 15. EXAMPLES: The Thomas Theorem “War of the Worlds” broadcast In 1938, people were injured in a mass panic because they thought that a radio drama of an alien invasion was a news broadcast! Charles Manson In the 1970s, Charles Manson led a group on a murder spree because he believed that he heard messages in the Beatles’ song “Helter Skelter.”
  • 16. Social Construction • Ethnomethodology – Study of the way people make sense of their everyday surroundings. – Exploration of the process of making sense of social encounters. – Argues that it is useless to investigate society “out there” because that “reality” is constructed by people – therefore, we must investigate the processes of construction and communication. – Comes very close to social psychology.
  • 17. Constructing Reality • How we act or what we see in our surroundings depends on our interests. • Social background also affects what we see. • People build reality from the surrounding culture. • Because cultural systems are marked by diversity and even outright conflict, reality construction always involves tensions and choices. • Here women confront starkly different definitions of what is “feminine.”
  • 18.
  • 19. NOTE Your textbook covers Goffman’s Dramaturgical Theory in this chapter. However, we already covered this in the previous unit (Chapter 5), so you don’t need to worry about it here.
  • 20. Constructing Reality • nonverbal communication = social communication between persons without using words. • Visual cues (gestures, appearances, demeanor) • Vocal features (inflection, volume, pitch) • Environmental factors (use of space, position) –personal space = the immediate area surrounding a person that the person claims as private.