Course SOCA01H3 LEC30 Lecture 11/10/2012
Topic: Self and society
Key educational goals/outcomes for today:
Know the concepts of status, role, and identity, and be able to apply them to situations in your
own social life. Understand that all these aspects of individual experience are socially
Understand that Berger and Lockman bridged the symbolic-interactionist and Weberian
approaches to society. Form an opinion about relative merits of theirs and the “pure” symbolic
Tepperman, Lorne, Patrizia Albanese, and Jim Curtis (eds.). 2012. Sociology: A Canadian
Perspective. 3 edition. Toronto: Oxford University Press. Chapter 5.
Questions to guide the reading/to think about ahead of time for students
Outline functionalist view of statuses and roles. Note that the substance of this view, unlike its
insistence on control, is widely accepted by other sociologists.
Define role-taking and role-making. Give examples.
What is the difference between self and identity? How do people change identities? Be able to summarize the examples of this process, given in
What is the theoretical basis for “identity politics”?
Note that Shaffir and Pawluch write about three main theoretical approaches in sociology. Which
of the five approaches discussed by Thomson have been “demoted” to subsets of a main
theoretical approach? Within which main approach do they appear? Do you find the Thomson or
the Shaffir-Pawluch classification more plausible? Why?
A GENDA FOR CLASS
This week we deal with the core sociological concepts of status, role, and identity. Although the
textbook presents them as products of structural-functionalist and symbolic-interactionist
thought, respectively, we should keep in mind that they are used – and sometimes modified – by
The main concepts for today
I. Status – definition
- Status: a position in relation to other people.
- Ex: Hockey palyer, a restaurant server, a human resource specialist, social worker, a sex trade worker, a father, a sister, a best friend, a voter.
II. Role – definition
- Roles: expected behavior of a person in a particular status (Shaffir and Pawluch follow
Parsons: responsibilities and privileges of a status).
- A status describes waht one is, a role describes what one does.
- Structural functionalism; roles restrict agency strongly.
III. Ascribed and achieved statuses
- An ascribed status: usually one a person is born into (e.g class), or imposed by nature,
usually considered as unchangeable.
- Explain: class is a ascribe status because we do not choose which family to be born.
- Ascribed statuses are socially constructed
- The all-India census 1868-1871: gender categories understandable to the Brishtish, but
not to many Indian communities.
- An achieved status: earned or chosen by the actor (e.g. class), usually considered as
- Ascribed statuses often influence achievement of statuses
IV. Roles conflict
- A situation where the demands of one role are at odds with another
a. Time demands of multiple roles: the actor must choose which role to fulfill;
b. Internalized norms of one role spill over into another and result in appropriate
behavior in that role.
- 1960s US: an increased number of divorces of middle class couples; caused by husbands’ inability to abandon norms of managerial role home
V. Social constructionism – social constructionism
- People act in situations on the basis of the meaning (definition) that the situation has for
them, not on the basis of objective characteristics of things and people.
- Thomas and Thomas “If men define situations as real, they are real in their
- The meanings (definitions) are created and negotiated in social interaction.
- Berger and Luckman combine symbolic-i