How is social order maintained through interaction
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How is Social Order maintained through Interaction?. Goffman and the Dramaturgical model We are ‘actors’ playing our part in social scenes Role and Person

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How is Social Order maintained through Interaction?

  • Goffman and the Dramaturgical model

  • We are ‘actors’ playing our part in social scenes

  • Role and Person

  • A role is a relatively standardised social location (e.g. teacher, parent) defined by specific rights and obligations. We are expected and often required to conform to the rules of the role

  • Thus our behaviour is typically determined by what is expected of that position rather than by our own ‘unique’ individual characteristics, (even though we can still ‘do it our way’ )

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Role Playing and Social Order

  • Role Performance:

  • The adequacy of our performance is judged by the ‘audience’

  • This involves reference to rules, sometimes referred to as norms (standards), to which our action is expected to conform

  • Therefore our action is not ours alone but a joint achievement by ourselves and the audience

  • Therefore, the audience participate in our ‘performance’ - interaction

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  • The rules that define the roles we play are general, i.e. they apply to anyone playing the role.

  • The expectations of our action are, therefore, general.

  • The characteristics of the role player form a stereotype; a generalised set of expectations and attributes that are applied more or less uniformly to members of a particular group.

  • Stereotypes may benefit or harm members of the group

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Culture and Social Order

  • Our interaction therefore depends on the existence of shared meanings.

  • The totality of shared meanings is culture; The symbolic and learned non-biological aspects of human society

  • This is our shared way of life; we express it through the five main elements of culture:


    values and beliefs



    material objects

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  • Culture is learnt though the process of socialisation.

  • Through socialisation the social norms and rules that define the roles we play become part of our personality.

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Primary and Secondary Socialisation

  • Primary socialisation – family-based learning

  • Secondary socialisation – subsequent learning e.g. school

    • =

  • cultural reproduction.

    Conflict is likely to occur where

    primary socialisation and secondary

    socialisation expose the pupil to

    contradictory or incompatible rules,

    expectations, language norms etc.

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    Language and Learning

    • Basil BernsteinBritish, Bald, Dead

    • elaborated (formal) speech: typical of the middle class. Normal in the classroom

    • restricted (informal) speech: typical of the working class. Deviant in the classroom.

    • Working class students more likely to experience cultural alienation

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    Self-fulfilling prophecy

    • An expectation that when acted upon helps create the expected outcome.

    • If a child is defined by a teacher as a low achiever that child is likely to perform as a low achiever.

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    Socialisation and the Life Course

    • Socialisation is a continuous process

    • The life-course is the development of the person as a social identity through particular stages childhood, adolescence, mid-life, old age & death.

    • At each life course stage we are socialised into new roles and acquire new identities

    • Life course transition is the process through which the person moves from one socially constructed stage to the next

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    Life Course Rituals

    • Arnold Gennep (1873-1957)

    • French (or German or Dutch), Hair condition unknown; Dead

    • Rites de Passage Public ceremonies celebrating the transition of an individual or group to a new life course stage

      • Separation

        • Liminality

          • Reintegration

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    Anticipatory socialisation

    • Any process in which an individual endeavours to remodel his or her social behaviour in the expectation of gaining entry to and acceptability in a higher social status or class than that currently occupied

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    Roles and Social Complexity

    • Extensive division of labour typical of modern societies increases the range of available roles.

    • The set of roles performed by a person do not necessarily form a coherent whole (e.g. ‘mother’ and ‘employee’)

    • Role conflict occurs when a person finds he or she is playing two or more roles at one time that make incompatible demands (e.g. ‘pupil’ and ‘lad) or when a person (e.g. ‘teacher’) defines their role one way whilst those in related roles (e.g. ‘parent’) define it differently.

    • This implies that the content of roles is not fixed but negotiable