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SOC107: Week 11 (April 9th) [LAST LECTURE] - "New Normal: Time for a Change? "

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SOC 107
Alan Sears

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SOC107-021 – Tuesday, April 9 , 2013 New Normal: Time for a Change? [external change – the world around us, and our role in making change] OUTLINE 1. New normal 2. Negotiating normal – symbolic interaction 3. Power and norms – changing material relations 4. Changing the world/change yourself 1. NEW NORMALS  A succession of new normals - One of the important concepts of sociology is the idea of “norms” so how do you know what to do in certain settings? - We are constantly experiencing a new set of norms in new settings – the way we look, act, etc. it all varies dependent on the setting through negotiating - We are constantly trying to figure out the norms, not only so we can submit to them and follow them, but to create a self that works for us in the setting (always negotiating, and not only do we change ourselves, but the rules change as well) - There is an element of negotiating in every setting, and redefine the situation, example: the classroom, the professor changes the way they present depending on the engagement of the students - We are always in flux – the world around us changes, we receive new feedback, etc. Two dimensions/frames to look at: 1) Symbolic interactionist frame: interpret the negotiating of meanings in these situations (how we look/act in the classroom, eye contact between us and the professor) 2) Material relations frame: there are negotiations between professor-student; there are certain powers the professor holds to limit the realm of negotiation (sometimes students can collectively hold power, such as packing up early before class ends and leaving) - There is a great deal of change (technological changes, economic changes, changes in the way we look at ourselves, our relations) so the things we consider normal may not be considered normal for our parents, our grandparents, etc. which changes what we expect; the idea is that what we consider normal may not be considered normal for long – normal keeps changing - Our negotiating of normal isn’t just dependent on us being in flux, but the world is constantly in flux as well, so we continuously negotiate normal - Example: in Spain, students expect a job right when they get out of school, but suddenly the economy changes and jobs are no longer as widely available, and they are forced to live at home with their parents and grandparents, so they must negotiate their family relations  **Interaction – making and remaking meanings - In the Spain example, family relations and power relations are being re-negotiated, such as “who is the head of the household?” The parents? The grandparents? - How close should we be with our parents? How close would we be if we lived on our own? What about our grandparents? Who do we listen and respond to?  **Material relations – capitalism and new normals - Emphasizing the understanding of the context of the very specific power structure (capitalism, for example) that impacts what we can and cannot do, which begins to shape a lot of the ways we can actually negotiate - You can find that in a job situation you will act/dress differently than in the classroom; to simply proclaim yourself in a job situation is drastically different from a classroom setting - Sometimes we defy norms, we are very involved in creatively making ourselves and making situations and responding to situations (the idea that we are active in negotiating meaning with one another and negotiating power in material relations, but it’s not completely flexible)  Making sense of the present - The most interesting/challenging: making sense of the present - The present is very easy not to notice – the room that you’re in, once you’re in it, you take it for granted; you stop noticing the colours of the walls, the position of the chairs, it just simply begins to make sense and assume that it is simply the way the classroom operates - You make assumptions about the present and the way things are, they are just there - Years from now, we will see how normal has changed - Act as a stranger in your everyday, asking questions that a stranger would ask to make sense of the present, to not simply take it for granted - Example: when a friend gets an extreme haircut, you really notice it, but within a few days you begin not to notice it anymore, it just becomes how they look - The relations that we have (family r
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