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Social Interaction and Social Structure. Chapter 5. Why should we choose these guys?. I. Social Structure = . *** Football : players and setting vary - all teams have common structure . What does football teach us for sociology?. * establishes relationships * identified by that job

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Social Interaction and Social Structure

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Social Interaction and Social Structure

Chapter 5

Why should we choose these guys?

I. Social Structure =

  • *** Football: players and setting vary - all teams have common structure

What does football teach us for sociology?

  • * establishes relationships

  • * identified by that job

  • * to get anything done, all must work together and follow the rules

  • * sanctions for those who do follow the rules

  • * each ‘season’ new people join the team but structure is the same

  • * social structure does not determine outcome!!!

  • * can add plays or improvise depending on players

  • * without structure, the team would be a bunch of individuals that never get the goal accomplished

I. Social Structure

  • A. coordinates individual activities, provides continuity, allows for spontaneity , gives framework (rules)

B. Social structure affects people

  • 1. roles of husband, wife, mother, lover, worker change based on structure

  • a. affects attitude, behavior, individual characteristics, temperaments

2. Roles are part of larger institutions:

  • a. roles of student/professor 


b. roles of husband/wife 


c. roles of producer/ consumer 


3. Linked together to form society






C. Microperspective

  • 1. looking at players, their roles, their relationships, etc.

how it affects the game

D. Macroperspective =

1. e.g. analyze different roles the NFL, college football, TV, ads, and fans play in professional football

  • looks at overall patterns and trends

* a. what rules govern their relations

*b.what happens when rules bent or broken

F. Evolution of Society from the macroperspective

  • 1. Hunter-Gatherer Society 

  • main focus on acquiring food for subsistence living;

  • little domestication of animals;

  • many are nomads

2. Horticultural/Pastoral

  • Horticultural Society 

  • Simple gardening; small tribes/villages

  • Family the most important


  • domesticated animals;

  • some people of tribe allowed to specialize (i.e. healer, craftsperson…);

  • Male dominated

  • The sexual division of labor is sharply marked in pastoralist societies

  • .Status of women still high

3. Agricultural Society 

  • use of technology to grow crops;

  • food surpluses leads to bigger populations which led to development of towns and trade;

  • women start to lower in status;

  • social classes begin (nobility = land)

4. Industrial Society 

  • Industrial Revolution began the use of machines to produce goods;

  • tradesmen lost identities in factories;

  • factory owners get rich;

  • standard of living raises;

  • public education rises;

  • public health gets better;

  • cities problems arise;

  • struggles between working and wealthy classes arise

  • 5. Postindustrial Society 

  • based on information, knowledge, and the selling of services;

  • computer has revolutionized what is valued – now power comes from ability to generate, store, manipulate and sell information

II. Social Relationships

  • A. Relationships = basic building blocks of social structure

1. direct personal contact – most influence

2. indirect less contact but still has influence

3. Bureaucracy (Weber)

  • efficient organization of work based on skills and hierarchy

Status and Roles – Changing of the Social Structure

B. Durkheim’s Analysis of Suicide

1. Suicide not linked to mental illness

a. women outnumbered men 5 to 4 in mental institutions but only makeup a small percentage of suicides

2. Race or genetic makeup did not predispose members to suicide

a. variations within groups were as varied as between

3. Environment made no difference

  • majority of suicides in all countries took place in daylight during summer months

- i.e. places such as Sweden that have short days and long winters did not make people gloomy and suicidal

4. 4 types of Suicide

—Egoistic, Altruistic, Anomic, and Fatalistic—each linked to distinct set of social circumstances

Egoistic = excessive individualism

  • when people do not feel attached to a group/community that commands participation then easier to opt out

ii. Catholics have lower suicide rate: rules clear, everyone shared them, so all a part of “mother Church”

iii. Explains why suicide rates go down in times of war: war unites people against a common enemy, creating a heightened sense of togetherness

b. Altruistic = excessive attachment to community

  • when the group becomes more important than life, the individual is willing to sacrifice himself for its needs

  • soldiers and Japanese have high suicide rate: save face or honor

c. Anomic = breakdown of collective order

i. anomie = Greek word for “lawlessness”

ii. any major disruption of way of life (for better or worse) is stressful

- people depend on these guidelines to order their lives

iii. guidelines for behavior and standards are fuzzy

iv. that is why in economic depressions or booms, suicide goes up

d. Fatalistic = too much control by social guidelines

  • occurs in societies that exercise a high degree of control over their members’ emotions and motivations

  • people kill themselves out of hopelessness and over manipulation

C. Status and Roles: social script

  • 1. status = a position an individual occupies in society

a. achieved =

attained through personal effort (senator, loser, etc.)

b. ascribed =

assigned at birth (race, gender)

Monty Python and Status


c. master status =

social position that tends to override everything else the person is or does in life

2. role =

obligations and expectations

that accompany status


a. role conflict =

  • occurs when different positions make incompatible demands

e.g. Working mother

Social Groups

D. Network =

  • web of relationships that connects an individual to many other people

1. Structure of network affects efficiency and relationships

1. Clique

  • = everyone is connected to everyone else

Effect of an efficient clique

2. Orbit

  • = one person serves as the connection to all others

3. Chain

  • = connections become increasingly distant

4. Ring

= each person has more than one connection

End Result of a positive and efficient network…

E. Social Interaction

  • 1. from superficial to complex

  • a. formal: such as a job interview

  • b. free form: such as when 2 kids meet on the playground

Conversations strangers are not supposed to have…

French Kiss

  • c. before speaking or acting we size up the person next to us

  • d. Rules for conversations with strangers: weather, common complaint (airline), reasons for both being there

  • i. Never fight, embrace, talk about intimate subjects with stranger

F. American Bubble = Space Norms

1. Public Distance

  • = 12 feet or more: public speaker

2. Social Distance

  • = 4-7 feet: Impersonal business, interviews, purchasing products

3. Personal Distance

  • = 18 inches to 4 feet: conversation distance, friends, family, social interaction

4. Intimate Distance

  • = 0 to 18 inches: lovemaking to wrestling; conflict usually takes place

* conflict can be escalated by invading someone’s personal spaces—another form of insult

3. Symbolic Interactionism: compare to stage

  • a. Goffman: behavior is different at a formal dinner than sitting at home with parents

i. “Frontstage”  public front

ii. “Backstage”  private behavior

iii. We are all putting on an act

Can’t Buy Me Love

III. social identity =

  • our sense of who and what we are (comes from roles we play, idealized version of who we would like to be)

A. Fashion and Fitness Look the part

  • 1. Fashion is to reveal at a glance what kind of person each is

  • b. e.g. man wearing wire-rimmed glasses & old tweed jacket sees himself or wants others to see him as an intellectual

  • a. e.g. woman with tailored suit and suitcase attempts to project image of respectability

2. All societies use clothing to distinguish groups of people

  • 3. Fashion different than style

  • a. defines age, social group, beliefs/values

4. Conflict: Fred Davis holds that fashion is a way to deal with cultural conflicts:

  • youth versus age

conformity vs. individualism

masculine vs. feminine

work versus play

success vs. failure

snobs vs. nobodies

a. Women’s office clothing:

  • 70s—“dress for success”

80s—confusion over women/men

90s—gender ambivalence resurfaced—power suits

00s- sex becomes a weapon

B. Bodies: slim, fit, youthful, & sexy

Values: Hard work, self worth, pride, beauty

1. Ideal body based on advertising (models)

Photoshop Beauty

  • 2. Fitness ideal—reflects values of hard work, self-control, achievement, and prosperity

  • 3. Economy--$50 billion/year on diets, makeup, plastic surgery, health clubs, and workout equipment

  • a. * Studies show that overweight, non-athletic, not-very-beautiful applicants are discriminated against

  • “You can never be too rich or too thin.”—Fitness represents social class

C. Face-Work =

  • everyone is trying to give an impression—others help maintain this

  • * professor or someone dignified passes gas or trips

  • 1. Examples: * if you see someone in public is about to cry then you turn away or feel uncomfortable

2. norm of reciprocity =

  • norm that demands that people respond equally to certain behavior

a. e.g. thank you cards for gifts, invitation for an invitation, greeting for a greeting

b. we are uncomfortable around someone who is far more or less good looking, intelligent, wealthy, or talented—exchange is unequal

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