Sociology lecture 5
Midterm test on October 22nd
Cca. 35 % lecture, 65% reading
Distributed evenly across topics
Status and Role- definitions
› Status: a position in relation to other people
› Examples: a hockey player, a restaurant server, a human resource specialist, social worker, a sex
trade worker, a father, a sister, a best friend, a voter.
› Roles: expected behaviour of a person in a particular status (Shaffir and Pawluch follow Parsons:
responsibilities and privileges of a status)
› A status describes what one is, a role describes what one does.
› Structural functionalism: roles restrict agency strongly.
Ascribed and achieved statuses
› An ascribed status: usually once a person is born into (e.g. class) or imposed by nature, usually
considered as unchangeable.
› Ascribed statuses are socially constructed.
› The all-India census 1868-1871: gender categories understandable to the British, but not to many Indian
› An achieved status: earned or chosen by the actor (e.g. class), usually considered as changeable.
› Ascribed statuses often influence achievement of statuses.
› A situation where the demands of one role are at odds with another.
1. Time demands of multiple roles: the actor must choose which role to fulfil.
2. Internalized norms of one role spill over into another and result in inappropriate behaviour in that
› US: an increased number of divorces of middle class couples, caused by husbands’ inability to abandon
norms of managerial role at home.
Symbolic internationalism and 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 consequences.”
› The meaning (definitions) are created and negotiated in social interaction.
› Berger and Luckman combine symbolic integrationist and Weberian approach:
1. Social reality is socially constructed; 2. By claim makers who attempt to change definitions of reality;
3. Success of claim makers depends on the distribution of power between them and other social
actors (including opponents).
› Environment processes are ongoing. Why do enviro