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Chapter 4. Social Structure and Interaction in Everyday Life. Questions for You…. Is there a structure regarding how society is organized? How do the large pieces of society fit together?

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chapter 4

Chapter 4

Social Structure and Interaction in Everyday Life

questions for you
Questions for You…

Is there a structure regarding how society is organized?

How do the large pieces of society fit together?

What is the importance of understanding “social location” as it relates to a group’s overall placement in the social structure?

What factors affect the process of social interaction?

chapter outline
Chapter Outline

Social Structure: The Macrolevel Perspective

Components of Social Structure

Societies: Changes in Social Structure

Social Interaction: The Microlevel Perspective

Changing Social Structure and Interaction in the Future

social structure and interaction
Social Structure and Interaction

Social structure is the framework of societal institutions (politics, and religion) and social practices (social roles) that make up a society and establish limits on behavior.

Social interaction is the process by which people act toward or respond to other people and is the foundation for all relationships and groups in society.


According to data published by the Congressional Research Service Reports(2005), the number of homeless individuals in the United States ranges from 600,000-2.5 million people.

Although single men constitute about sixty percent of the homeless population, families constitute about one third of all homeless and are the fastest-growing group of homeless. The homeless elderly will also be an important group as America ages in the next decades

how much do you know about homeless persons
How Much Do You Know About Homeless Persons?
  • True or False?
    • Most homeless people choose to be homeless.
how much do you know about homeless persons1
How Much Do You Know About Homeless Persons?
  • False.
    • Less than 6% of all homeless people are that way by choice.
how much do you know about homeless persons2
How Much Do You Know About Homeless Persons?
  • True or False?
    • Homeless people do not work.
how much do you know about homeless persons3
How Much Do You Know About Homeless Persons?
  • False.
    • Many homeless people are among the working poor.
    • Minimum-wage jobs do not pay enough to support a family or pay inner-city rent.
how much do you know about homeless persons4
How Much Do You Know About Homeless Persons?
  • True or False?
    • Most homeless people are mentally ill.
how much do you know about homeless persons5
How Much Do You Know About Homeless Persons?
  • False.
    • Most homeless people are not mentally ill; estimates suggest that about 1/4 of the homeless are emotionally disturbed.
polling question
Polling Question
  • People who are better off should help friends who are less well off.
      • Strongly agree
      • Agree somewhat
      • Unsure
      • Disagree somewhat
      • Strongly disagree
components of social structure
Components of Social Structure




Social Institutions


A socially defined position in society characterized by certain expectations, rights, and duties.

  • Ascribed status
    • Social position based on attributes over which the individual has little or no control, such as race/ethnicity, age, and gender.
  • Achieved status
    • Social position that a person assumes as a result of personal choice, merit, or direct effort.
  • Master status is the most important status that a person occupies.
  • Status symbols are material signs that inform others of a person’s specific status.
    • Example:
      • Wearing a wedding ring proclaims that a person is married.
polling question1
Polling Question
  • If you could change one of the following in our society, which would you change?
      • Prejudice
      • Sweat shops
      • Media censorship
      • The speed limit
      • The income distribution to be more equal
  • A set of behavioral expectations associated with a given status.
  • Role Expectation
    • A group or society’s definition of the way a specific role ought to be played.
  • Role Performance
    • How a person actually plays a role.
  • Role Conflict
    • Occurs when incompatible demands are placed on a person by two or more statuses held at the same time.
  • Role Strain
    • Occurs when incompatible demands are built into a single status that the person holds.
stages of role exit
Stages of Role Exit
  • When people leave a role central to their identity: (ex. retirement)
      • Doubt
      • Search for alternatives - separation, leave of absence.
      • The turning point - take an action.
social groups
Social Groups

A social group consists of two or more people who interact frequently and share a common identity and a feeling of interdependence.

Primary groups - Family, close friends, school or work-related peer groups

Secondary - Schools, churches, corporations

formal organization
Formal Organization

A highly structured group formed for the purpose of completing certain tasks or achieving specific goals.

Many of us spend most of our time in formal organizations such as colleges, corporations, or the government.

social institutions
Social Institutions

A social institution is a set of organized beliefs and rules that establishes how a society will attempt to meet its basic social needs.

five basic social institutions
Five Basic Social Institutions





Government or politics

functionalists five tasks of social institutions
Functionalists: Five Tasks of Social Institutions

Replacing members.

Teaching new members.

Producing, distributing, and consuming goods and services.

Preserving order.

Providing and maintaining a sense of purpose.

durkheim s typology of social solidarity
Durkheim's Typology of Social Solidarity

Social solidarity is based on social structure which is based on division of labor.

Mechanical Solidarity - people are united by traditions and shared values.

Organic Solidarity - people are united by mutual dependence on one another.

t nnies gemeinschaft and gesellschaft
Tönnies: Gemeinschaft andGesellschaft

Sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies (1855– 1936) used the terms Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft to characterize the degree of social solidarity and social control found in societies.

He was especially concerned about what happens to social solidarity in a society when a “loss of community” occurs.

gemeinschaft societies
Gemeinschaft Societies

A Gemeinschaft society would be made up of the various family trees and how they are related to one another.

gesellschaft societies
Gesellschaft Societies

A Gesellschaft society would be made up of clumps of trees, each has a specialized relationship and may not be committed to the others.

industrial and postindustrial societies
Industrial and Postindustrial Societies

Industrial societies are based on technology that mechanizes production.

People who are unemployed do not share the same status markers as those who have jobs.

A postindustrial society is one in which technology supports a service and information based economy.

They are characterized by an economy in which large numbers of people provide or apply information or are employed in service jobs.

social construction of reality
Social Construction of Reality

The process by which our perception of reality is largely shaped by the subjective meaning that we give to an experience.

This meaning strongly influences what we “see” and how we respond to situations.

social construction of reality1
Social Construction of Reality

Definition of the situation -

We analyze a social context in which we find ourselves, determine what is in our best interest, and adjust our attitudes and actions accordingly.

Self-fulfilling prophecy

A false belief or prediction that produces behavior that makes the original false belief come true.

  • The study of the commonsense knowledge people use to understand situations.
  • Sociologist Harold Garfinkel (1967) initiated this approach and coined the term:
    • ethno for “people” and methodology for “a system of methods.”
  • He was critical of mainstream sociology for not recognizing the ongoing ways in which people create reality and produce their own world.
goffman dramaturgical analysis
Goffman: Dramaturgical Analysis

The study of social interaction that compares everyday life to a theatrical presentation.

Members of our “audience” judge us and are aware that we may slip and reveal our true character.

dramaturgical analysis
Dramaturgical Analysis
  • Impression management
    • People’s efforts to present themselves in ways that are favorable to their own interests or image.
  • Face-saving behavior
    • Strategies to rescue our performance when we experience a potential or actual loss of face.
nonverbal communication
Nonverbal Communication

Facial expressions

Head movements

Eye contact

Body positions


Personal space

functions of nonverbal communication
Functions of Nonverbal Communication

Supplements verbal communication.

Regulates social interaction.

Establishes the relationship among people in terms of their power over one another.

personal space
Personal Space

The immediate area surrounding a person that the person claims as private.

Our personal space is contained within an invisible boundary surrounding our body, much like a snail’s shell.

1. ________ is the process by which people act toward or respond to other people.
  • Role taking
  • Social interaction
  • Role performance
  • Role expectation
answer b
Answer: B

Social interaction is the process by which people act toward or respond to other people.

2. Being a college professor is a(n):
  • achieved status
  • tertiary status
  • none of the choices
  • ascribed status
answer a
Answer: A

Being a college professor is an achieved status.

3. Being a homeless person is a(n):
  • none of the choices
  • tertiary status
  • ascribed status
  • master status
answer d
Answer: D

Being a homeless person is a master status.

4. Women who work for less pay, less prestige, and more career roadblocks often experience:
  • role conflict
  • role exit
  • role strain
  • role ambiguity
answer c
Answer: C

Women who work for less pay, less prestige, and more career roadblocks often experience role strain.

answer a1
Answer: A

Nonverbal communication regulates our conversations.