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Chapter 4. Social Structure and Interaction in Everyday Life. 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.

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Chapter 4

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chapter 4

Chapter 4

Social Structure and Interaction in Everyday Life

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.
components of social structure
Components of Social Structure
  • Status
  • Roles
  • Groups
  • 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.
  • 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.
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.
food for thought

Food for Thought

The alcohol industry earns almost $23 billion annually from underage drinkers, according to research from Columbia University. That’s 17.5% of all money spend on alcoholic beverages in the United States. (Reuters News)

which theorist do you think would be most interested in this statistic
Which theorist do you think would be most interested in this statistic?
  • A structural functionalist?
  • A conflict theorist?
  • A symbolic interactionist?
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.
  • Social institutions fulfill a basic need for society. They arise over time as people develop solutions to the particular needs of their society.
five basic social institutions
Five Basic Social Institutions
  • Family
  • Religion
  • Education
  • Economy
  • 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.
the family as a social institution
The Family as a Social Institution
  • Statuses?
  • Roles?
  • Norms?
  • Values?
functions of the family as a social institution
Functions of the Family as a Social Institution
  • Physical survival of children
  • Socialization of children
  • Emotional support
  • Sense of identity
  • Regulation of sex
due to this interconnectivity a change in one social institution will have consequences for others
Due to this interconnectivity, a change in one social institution will have consequences for others

Example: The changing role of women

  • Education
  • Family
  • Government
  • Religion
  • Economy
food for thought how important is the family

Food for Thought: How important is the family?

“What is done to children, they will do to society.” (Karl Menninger)

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.
food for thought1
Food for Thought

Americans are far more socially isolated today than they were two decades ago, and a sharply growing number of people say they have no one in whom they can confide.

From a 2006 study of the decline of social ties in the United States conducted by Miller McPherson, Lynne Smith-Lovin and Matthew Brashears.

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.
dramaturgical analysis
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 analysis1
Dramaturgical Analysis
  • Impression management
    • People’s efforts to present themselves in ways that are favorable to their own interests or image.
    • Front Stage and Back Stage Behavior
  • Face-saving behavior
    • Strategies to rescue our performance when we experience a potential or actual loss of face.
food for thought2

Food for Thought

“Unlike grown-ups, children have little need to deceive themselves” (Goethe)

case study homeless adults and self esteem
Case Study: Homeless Adults and Self-esteem
  • Role distancing keeps us from being too closely associated with a status. (I’m not like the others.).
  • Role embracement is putting the best face on one’s lot and standing up for it.
  • Stories of how important one used to be, or to foretell better days ahead.
nonverbal communication
Nonverbal Communication
  • Facial expressions
  • Head movements
  • Eye contact
  • Body positions
  • Touching
  • 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.
food for thought3

Food for Thought

The Looking Glass Self:

I am not who you think I am; I am not who I think I am; I am who I think you think I am.

macro versus micro analysis
Macro versus Micro Analysis


All Social Institutions

Social Institution of Education

Manatee Community College

Sociology Classroom


Macro Theory

Micro Theory