Social structure refers to patterned relationships among persons and groups within society. It is a
framework that surrounds us, consisting of the relationships of people and groups to one another,
which give direction to and set limits on behavior. It provides the context within which people
• Social Structure makes human behavior orderly, patterned, and controllable; as a result, social
structure makes society and culture possible.
• Social Structure exists at two levels, viz. 1) the institutional level (macrosociological) and 2) the
normative level (microsociological)
Statuses and Roles
• Status is a position occupied by an individual in a social group or society (e.g., father)
• Status set is the collection of statuses of an individual or the "set" of positions one occupies in society
(e.g., father, husband, brother, nephew, son, carpenter, high-school graduate, and so on).
• Ascribed statuses refer to positions an individual inherits at birth or receives involuntarily.
• Achieved statuses are those positions that are earned, accomplished, or involve at least some effort or
activity on the part of the individual.
• Master status refers to a status that cuts across, overrides, or overshadows all other statuses.
• Roles refer to the behavior, obligations, duties, responsibilities, and expectations associated with a
specific status (e.g., students are expected to study)
• Role set is the distinctive set of roles attached to a single status; that is, the quantity and quality of
roles attached to a position.
• Role conflict refers to a situation in which individuals are confronted with incompatible role
requirements of two or more statuses.
• Role strain is the stress associated with being unable to meet the incompatible role requirements of a
• Role overload occurs when the role demands of multiple statuses become so overwhelming that all
role performances suffer.
Social Groups and Social Institutions
– Social groups refer to two or more people who possess feelings of unity, share certain interests and expectations, and interact in a meaningful, patterned ways.
– In contrast, nonsocial groups are statistical, categorical, or aggregate groups of people characterized
by minimal levels of awareness of kind, interaction, or feelings of unity.
• Dyad – the smallest possible group, consisting of two people
• Triad – a group of three people
Key features of groups include:
– Size (small vs large)
– Frequency of interaction (frequent vs infrequent)
– Duration of interaction (long vs sh