Everyday Life

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SOSC 111
Kevin Dew

Everyday Life Symbolic Interactionism  George Herbert Mead (1863-1931)  Interaction between people is a matter of communication through symbols. Construction of social order through interaction. An example of a symbol is language, or they way we dress, or move our bodies – ways of communication.  Through human activity meaning is made  We have to learn how to make meaning of actions  The symbolic capacity of humans allows them to transcend immediate circumstances. The capacity humans have to reflect, imagine futures, a capacity of self-consciousness – an attempt to distinguish us from animals  The “generalized other” is part of our personality – we have to come to understand other people who in a sense become part of our personality Social order and the emphasis on action  To understand society we need to understand how action is organized – a focus on what we do, social practices - Durkheim focused on social practices that shape and constrain us  The state, classes, religion etc. are patterns of individuals going about their daily lives – interactionism  Social order is achieved through a process of negotiation – an emergent phenomena – constantly negotiating with each other and social order comes out of this form of interaction – cultural standards where we have learnt how to negotiate  Socialization is not an end-point but a process of becoming – identities are not static – a constant process – identities are changeable and malleable Erving Goffman (1922-1982)  Presentation of the self in everyday life (1956) – most famous book  His work is a product of his time  A cynical view of life  An observer of face-to-face interaction between strangers  Explored different ways of looking at the social world (e.g. role of metaphor)  “Dramaturgical principles” – everyone is an actor on a stage, roles can switch and evolve over time – the social world as a theatrical performance  Impression management – we are constantly aware of how people are perceiving us and we are trying to manage those perceptions – hiding behind an array of masks – try to present ourselves in particular lights – we are constantly manipulating the presentation of ourselves to others (from behind the masks)  Two selves thesis - “the individual as a set of performance masks hiding a manipulative and cynical self” – Manning Goffman’s interac
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