Chapter 6

Report
Social Interaction In
Everyday Life
The process by which people act and react in
relation to others
Sociology, 12th Edition by John Macionis
Copyright  2008 Prentice Hall, a division of Pearson Education. All rights reserved.
Social Interaction
• The symbolic interaction paradigm
• Humans rely on social structure to
make sense out of everyday
situations.
Sociology, 12th Edition by John Macionis
Copyright  2008 Prentice Hall, a division of Pearson Education. All rights reserved.
Status
• A social position that a person
holds
• Status set
– All the statuses held at one time
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Dance partner
Boss
Friend
Harley club member
Sports participant
Businessman
Sociology, 12th Edition by John Macionis
Copyright  2008 Prentice Hall, a division of Pearson Education. All rights reserved.
Type of Status
• Ascribed: Involuntary positions
• Achieved: Voluntary positions
Often the two types work together. What we’re
ascribed often helps us achieve other
statuses.
• Master status: Has special
importance for social identity, often
shaping a person’s entire life.
Sociology, 12th Edition by John Macionis
Copyright  2008 Prentice Hall, a division of Pearson Education. All rights reserved.
Role
The behavior expected of someone who holds a
particular status
• Role set
– A number of roles attached to a single
status
– Example: status of mother
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•
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•
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Disciplinarian
Sports authority
Dietitian
Dr. Mom
Pretty mom
Sociology, 12th Edition by John Macionis
Copyright  2008 Prentice Hall, a division of Pearson Education. All rights reserved.
Role Conflict and Role Strain
• Role conflict
– Involves two or more statuses
• Example: Conflict between role expectations of a
police officer who catches her own son using drugs
at home–mother and police officer
• Role strain
– Involves a single status
• Example: Manager who tries to balance concern for
workers with task requirements–office manager
Sociology, 12th Edition by John Macionis
Copyright  2008 Prentice Hall, a division of Pearson Education. All rights reserved.
Role Exit
• Role exit: Becoming an “ex”
– Disengaging from social roles can be very traumatic
without proper preparation.
• The process of becoming an “ex”
– Doubts form about ability to continue with a certain
role.
– Examination of new roles leads to a turning point at
which time one decides to pursue a new direction.
– Learning new expectations associated with new role.
– Past role might influence new self.
Sociology, 12th Edition by John Macionis
Copyright  2008 Prentice Hall, a division of Pearson Education. All rights reserved.
The Social Construction
of Reality
• The process by which people creatively shape
reality through social interaction.
• “Street smarts”
• The Thomas theorem
– Situations that are defined as real are real in their
consequences
• Ethnomethodology
– The study of the way people make sense of their
everyday surroundings
– Explores the process of making sense of social
encounters
Sociology, 12th Edition by John Macionis
Copyright  2008 Prentice Hall, a division of Pearson Education. All rights reserved.
Reality Building:
Class and Culture
• How we act or what we see in our
surroundings depends on our interests.
• Social background also affects what we
see.
• People build reality from the surrounding
culture.
Sociology, 12th Edition by John Macionis
Copyright  2008 Prentice Hall, a division of Pearson Education. All rights reserved.
Goffman’s Dramaturgical
Analysis
Examining social interaction in terms of theatrical
performances
• Presentation of self or impression management
– Efforts to create specific impressions in the minds of
others.
• Role performance includes
– Stage setting
– Use of props: costume, tone of voice, gesture
– Example: Going to the doctor and playing the expected
patient role.
Sociology, 12th Edition by John Macionis
Copyright  2008 Prentice Hall, a division of Pearson Education. All rights reserved.
Nonverbal Communication
Communication using body movements, gestures, and
facial expressions rather than speech
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•
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Words
Voice
Body language
Facial expressions
Deameanor
Personal space
Goffman and idealization: We try to convince others
that what we do reflects ideal cultural standards
rather than selfish motives.
Sociology, 12th Edition by John Macionis
Copyright  2008 Prentice Hall, a division of Pearson Education. All rights reserved.
Gender and Performances
• Gender is a central element in personal
performances.
• Demeanor
– The way we act and carry ourselves
• Use of space
– Power plays a key role.
• Staring, smiling, touching
– Eye contact encourages interaction.
– Smiling: Trying to please or submission?
– Touching: Intimacy and caring
Sociology, 12th Edition by John Macionis
Copyright  2008 Prentice Hall, a division of Pearson Education. All rights reserved.
Idealization
• We construct performances to
idealize our intentions.
• Professionals typically idealize their
motives for entering their chosen
careers.
• We all use idealization to some
degree.
Sociology, 12th Edition by John Macionis
Copyright  2008 Prentice Hall, a division of Pearson Education. All rights reserved.
Embarrassment and Tact
• Embarrassment: Discomfort following a
spoiled performance.
• Goffman: Embarrassment is "losing face."
• Tact is helping someone "save face."
• An audience often overlooks flaws in a
performance, allowing the actor to avoid
embarrassment.
• Goffman: Although behavior is often
spontaneous, it is more patterned than we
think.
Sociology, 12th Edition by John Macionis
Copyright  2008 Prentice Hall, a division of Pearson Education. All rights reserved.
Emotions: The Social
Construction of Feeling
• The biological side of emotions
– Ekman: Some emotional responses are “wired”
into humans.
• The cultural side of emotions
– Ekman: Culture defines what triggers an
emotion.
• Emotions on the job
– Hochschild: The typical company tries to
regulate not only its employees’ behavior, but
also their emotions.
Sociology, 12th Edition by John Macionis
Copyright  2008 Prentice Hall, a division of Pearson Education. All rights reserved.
Gender and Language
Language communicates not only surface reality,
but also deeper levels of meaning.
• Power and Value
– Female pronouns and ownership
– Women often adopt the husband’s
surname.
– Traditionally feminine terms are more
likely to change to negative meanings
than masculine terms.
Sociology, 12th Edition by John Macionis
Copyright  2008 Prentice Hall, a division of Pearson Education. All rights reserved.
Humor
• Humor is unconventional.
– It’s a violation of cultural norms.
• Humor is tied to a common culture and
doesn’t translate easily.
– “Not getting it” means a person doesn’t
understand a joke’s conventional and
unconventional realities.
Sociology, 12th Edition by John Macionis
Copyright  2008 Prentice Hall, a division of Pearson Education. All rights reserved.
Humor
• Humor acts as a safety valve by
expressing opinions on a sensitive topic.
• Humor and conflict
– “Put down” with jokes about race, sex,
gender, and the disabled
Sociology, 12th Edition by John Macionis
Copyright  2008 Prentice Hall, a division of Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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