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Social Interaction, Social Structure, and Groups. Chapter 5. Social Interaction and Reality. Reality shaped by perceptions, evaluations, and definitions Varies across cultures Ability to define social reality reflects group’s power

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social interaction and reality
Social Interaction and Reality
  • Reality shaped by perceptions, evaluations, and definitions
    • Varies across cultures
    • Ability to define social reality reflects group’s power
    • Social change involves redefining or reconstructing social reality
social interaction
Social Interaction
  • The process by which people act and react in relation to others
  • Social construction of reality – the process by which people shape reality through social interaction
  • Thomas Theorem – Situations defined as real become real in their consequences
  • Status – a social position
    • Status set – consists of all the statuses a person holds at a given time
    • Ascribed status – a social position given to a person by society
    • Achieved status – a social position that someone assumes voluntarily and that reflects ability and effort
  • Master status – a status that has special importance for social identity, often shaping a person’s entire life.
  • Behavior expected of someone who holds a particular status
  • Role conflict - conflict among roles corresponding to two or more different statuses
  • Role strain – incompatibility among roles corresponding to a single status
understanding social structure
Understanding Social structure
  • Durkheim
  • Tonnies
  • Lenski
durkheim s mechanical and organic solidarity
Durkheim’s Mechanical and Organic Solidarity
  • Division of Labor ([1893] 1933)
    • Mechanicalsolidarity: Collective consciousness that emphasizes group solidarity, implying all individuals perform the same tasks
    • Organicsolidarity: Collective consciousness resting on the need society’s members have for one another
t nnies gemeinschaft and gesellschaft
Tönnies Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft
  • Gemeinschaft (guh-MINE-shoft): Small community in which people have similar backgrounds and life experiences
  • Gesellschaft (guh-ZELL-shoft): Large community in which people are strangers and feel little in common with other community residents
lenski s sociocultural evolution approach
Lenski’s Sociocultural Evolution Approach
  • Human societies undergo process of change characterized by dominant pattern known as socioculturalevolution
    • Level of technology critical
      • Technology: “Cultural information about the ways in which the material resources of the environment may be used to satisfy human needs and desires” (Nolan and Lenski 2006:361)
lenski s sociocultural evolution approach1
Lenski’s Sociocultural Evolution Approach
  • Preindustrial Societies
    • Hunting-and-gathering society: People rely on whatever foods and fibers are readily available
    • Horticultural societies: People plant seeds and crops
    • Agrarian societies: People are primarily engaged in production of food
lenski s sociocultural evolution approach2
Lenski’s Sociocultural Evolution Approach
  • Industrialsocieties: societies that depend on mechanization to produce its goods and services
    • People depend on mechanization to produce goods and services
    • People rely on inventions and energy sources
    • People change function of family as a self-sufficient unit
lenski s sociocultural evolution approach3
Lenski’s Sociocultural Evolution Approach
  • Postindustrial and Postmodern Societies
    • Postindustrialsociety: Economic system engaged primarily in processing and controlling information
    • Postmodernsociety: Technologically sophisticated society preoccupied with consumer goods and media images

Group: any number of people with similar norms, values, and expectations who interact on a regular basis

Primary group: small group with intimate, face-to-face association and cooperation

Secondary group: formal, impersonal groups with little social intimacy or mutual understanding


In-groups and Out-Groups

In-groups: any groups or categories to which people feel they belong

Out-groups: any groups or categories to which people feel they do not belong

Conflict between in-groups and out-groups can turn violent on a personal as well as political level


Reference group: any group thatindividuals use as standard for evaluating their own behavior

formal organizations
Formal Organizations
  • Large, secondary groups that are organized to achieve goals efficiently
types of formal organizations
Types of formal Organizations
  • Utilitarian - primary motive is income
  • Normative – not for income but to pursue some worthwhile goal
  • Coercive- involuntary
  • a form of organization based on explicit rules, with a clear, impersonal, and hierarchical authority structure
characteristics of bureaucracy
Characteristics of Bureaucracy
  • Complex division of labor (specialization)
  • Hierarchy of authority
  • Explicit rules
  • Rewards on the basis of performance
  • Extensive written records
  • A group that, through the legal process of incorporation, has been given the status of a separate and real social entity
    • Limited liability
group think
Group Think
  • Intense social pressure within a group for individuals to conform to group norms and abandon individual and critical thinking
  • People will compromise judgment to avoid being difficult
    • Solomon Asch’s experiment
types of leadership
Types of Leadership
  • Instrumental Leadership – group leadership that emphasizes the completion of tasks
  • Expressive Leadership – group leadership that focuses on collective well-being
organizational culture
Organizational Culture
  • Classical theory (scientific management) workers are motivated almost entirely by economic rewards
  • Human relations approach – emphasizes the role of people, communication, and participation within a bureaucracy