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Chapter 5:. Social Interaction and Social Groups. What to Expect in This Chapter. What is social interaction? Contexts and Norms of Social Interaction Studying Social Interaction: Ethnomethodology and Dramaturgy Types of Social Interaction Elements of Social Interaction What are Groups?

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chapter 5

Chapter 5:

Social Interaction and Social Groups

what to expect in this chapter
What to Expect in This Chapter...
  • What is social interaction?
    • Contexts and Norms of Social Interaction
    • Studying Social Interaction: Ethnomethodology and Dramaturgy
  • Types of Social Interaction
  • Elements of Social Interaction
  • What are Groups?
  • Functions of Groups
  • Group Size
  • Bureaucracy
  • Institutions and Social Organization
what is social interaction
What is Social Interaction?
  • Social interaction is the social action of two or more people taking each other into account in their action
  • Social action refers to those actions which people are conscious of doing because of other people
contexts and norms of social interaction
The context in which a social interaction takes place determines its meaning

Three elements comprise the context:

The physical setting

The social environment

Activities surrounding the interaction

Norms are the rules of behavior governing the interaction

Contexts and Norms of Social Interaction
studying social interaction ethnomethodology and dramaturgy
Studying Social Interaction: Ethnomethodology and Dramaturgy
  • Ethnomethodology is the study of the norms governing social interaction
    • This approach normally involves purposely violating commonly understood rules as a means to gauge the nature of people’s response
  • Dramaturgy understands social interaction in terms of the theater
    • Interacting parties are actors involved in a performance known as impression management
types of social interaction
Nonverbal Behavior

Involves forms of communication that involved body movements, or kinesics

Researchers focus on things such as posture, yawns, and eye contact

Exchange—social interaction with the express purpose of receiving mutual rewards

Cooperation—social interaction engaged in to promote common interests

Conflict—social interaction that involves working against each other for a commonly prized object

Competition—form of conflict in which individuals confine conflict to agreed-upon rules

Types of Social Interaction
elements of social interaction statuses
A status is any socially defined position that people occupy

Some statuses are more influential than others in shaping our identity and the interactions of others around us. These are called master statuses

Statuses can be either conferred upon us, or can be voluntarily attained

Ascribed statuses are conferred upon us, usually at birth. Include our race, sex, etc.

Achievedstatuses are voluntarily attained and include our occupation, student status, etc.

Elements of Social Interaction: Statuses
elements of social interaction roles
Elements of Social Interaction: Roles
  • Roles are the “...culturally defined rules for proper behavior that are associated with every status.”
  • All of the roles attached to a particular status are called, collectively, role sets
  • Because we cannot possibly fulfill all of the roles attached to a particular status at any given time, we typically identify a role set as those rules that apply to our interaction with other individuals in particular statuses
understanding role sets
Understanding Role Sets











Chair Committee

Lobby for money










Role Sets

Each of the relationships depicted here has its own set of roles

Status and Roles

role strain and role conflict
Role Strain and Role Conflict
  • Because we occupy several statuses, and numerous roles are attached to each status, there is great potential for conflict between roles
    • Role Strain occurs when there is conflict between roles attached to the same status
    • Role Conflict occurs when conflict is encountered between roles that are attached to two or more statuses
what are social groups
What Are Social Groups?
  • Social groups consist of people who have a common sense of identity, shared norms and common goals
  • Social groups are distinct from two other types of collectivities:
    • Social Aggregates—people who happen to be in close physical proximity, but share little else
    • Social Categories—people who share one or more characteristics in common, but do not interact
functions of groups
Functions of Groups

1. Defining Boundaries

2. Choosing Leaders

3. Making Decisions

4. Setting Goals

5. Assigning Tasks

6. Controlling Members' Behavior

group size small groups
Group Size: Small Groups
  • Small groups are few enough in number so that all members know one another
    • Dyad is the smallest group, consisting of only two people
    • Triad is a group of three, which introduces the possibility of coalitions and mediation
  • As the group grows larger, subgroups within the larger group may form
group size large groups
Group Size: Large Groups
  • Large groups consist of many people who do not usually know each other well
  • Associations are large groups purposely created to accomplish clearly defined goals
  • Associations have both a formal structure and an informal structure
    • The formal structure consists of formally defined, typically written job definitions
    • The informal structure is negotiated in the day to day activities of the association
the bureaucracy
The Bureaucracy
  • The bureaucracy is “a formal, rationally organized social structure with clearly defined patterns of activity in which...ideally, every series of actions is...related to the purposes of the organization.”
  • The classic model of bureaucracy was laid out by the German sociologist Max Weber, who identified six essential characteristics....
weber s classical model of bureaucracy
Weber’s Classical Model of Bureaucracy

Clear cut division of labor

Hierarchical Decision Making

Formal Rules

Impartiality in Relationships

Employment based on technical merit

Distinction between public and private lives

the reality of bureaucracy
The Reality of Bureaucracy
  • While Weber suggested that bureaucracy was the most rational and efficient way of accomplishing goals, we know that bureaucracies also produce a sense of alienation, adherence to unproductive ritual and even incompetence
  • Moreover, Robert Michels observed that bureaucracies inevitably come to be dominated by a small number of self-serving people at the top—an oligarchy. This tendency has come to be known as the “iron law of oligarchy”
social institutions
Social Institutions
  • Social institutions are the ordered relationships that grow out of the values, norms, statuses, roles and groups of society.
  • Social institutions respond to the basic need areas of society, which include:
    • Family
    • Educational Institution
    • Economic Institution
    • Religion
    • Political Institutions
social organization
Social Organization
  • Social organization refers to the “...relatively stable pattern of social relationships among individuals and groups in society”
  • The organization of society consists of statuses, roles, groups and institutions, ordered according to social norms that provide regularity and predictability in social interaction