SOC223 Study Guide - Final Guide: Symbolic Interactionism, Harold Garfinkel, Participant Observation
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SOC 223 Final Exam
Monday, April 22, 2013. 9:00-11:30am PAS 2083
**The Final exam has 3 major written questions (essay and short answer formats).
What is Deviance? A negative quality attributed to some activity or actors by an audience. It is any activity, actor,
idea, or humanly produces situation that an audience defines as negative (threatening, evil, immoral, offensive) in
some way. It is an inevitable component of community life. Deviance is social in its definition – deviance is brought
into existence only when something is so defined by an audience. The deviant mystique is auras, fascinations,
interests, curiosities, and related images that people develop with respect to deviance.
One person may see something as bad or forbidden while another sees it as good, interesting or fun. Certain situations
may appear even more alluring to some people because they are forbidden by others in the public.
Chapter 1 of DM – Encountering the Deviant Mystique
1. What is the Deviant Mystique? Explain this from an interactionist viewpoint. The deviant mystique refers to the
allures and fascinations, the anxieties and fears, and the repulsions that people associate with wrongdoing and
morality. It is interactionist in that it concentrates on humanly known and enacted realities.
2. Tell how interactionist’s approach the study of deviance? Interactionists approach the study of deviance as a study
of community life in the making. It study‟s the community life that encompasses people‟s participation in all areas
where deviance and morality are viewed as problematic.
3. How does this differ from structuralism and moralist/activist approaches?
Envisions deviance as a
social essence that is
produced by minded,
acting, and interacting
people who engage one
another in the full range
of community contexts.
Explain deviance by
virtue of an interplay of
factors through to cause
people to act in certain
Focus on the matters of
situations, behaviours, and
Deny the authenticity of human
knowing and acting. They
attempt to talk deviance out of
existence by reducing everything
to the realm of words, concepts,
or ideas – anything can be
Interactionists vs Moralists
Interactionist vs idealist
Interactionist vs structuralist
standpoints by which
deviance can be defined and
deviants can be identified
while interactionists study
the process by which human
group life takes place.
I‟s differ from idealists in: 1) recognizing the
authenticity of people‟s knowledge, moralities,
and judgments as meaningful of study 2)
emphasizing the centrality of activity for
comprehending the human condition. Idealists
content that they can redefine deviance out of
existence, I‟s see the engaged nature of
community life. The human world is a world of
S‟s ask “why” or “what makes”
people do things. I‟s ask “how”
people make sense of the situations
that they find themselves in and how
they act towards things they are
aware of. I‟s put emphasis on the
things that people consider
meaningful in symbolic or linguistic
Symbolic Interactionism - Chapter 2 of DM – Intersubjective Accomplishment
1. What are the 7 basic premises (assumptions) of symbolic interactionism (Mead, Blumer). Human Group life is:
1 – Intersubjective: the human world is symbolically/linguistically understood, constructed, and experienced.
2 – Multi-perspectival: the world can have multiple meanings to people. People develop meanings as their interact
with one another and develop styles of relating to objects.
3 – Reflective: people develop capacities to become object of their own awareness. They attribute meaning to
themselves & develop lines of action that take themselves into account.
4 – Activity Based: human group life is organized around the doing or accomplishing of activity and behaviour.
5 – Negotiable: people are able to influence and resist others
6 – Relational: people associate selectively. They develop particular bonds and attend to associations with others in
the communities they find themselves in.
7 – Processual: group life has an emergent quality or ongoing social construction; it‟s an ongoing process.
Thus we view human group life is viewed as intersubjective, multiperspectival, reflective, action-based, negotiable,
relational, and processual. This course analyzes group life from the perspectives of the people involved in instances
of deviance, the way s in which these people interpret and engage situations, the role that other people play in the
process, and the interchanges and relationship that people develop with others.
2. How is deviance defined from an interactionist viewpoint? Symbolic interactionism focuses on the nature of human
knowing and acting as this takes place within the community context. From an interactionists‟s viewpoint, deviance is
a social process. Interactionists emphasize that the study of human behaviour is the study of human lived experience
and that human experience is rooted in the meanings, interpretations, activities and of ongoing group life.
Deviance is a matter of human enterprise.
3. What sorts of questions do interactionists ask in their attempts to explain deviance? The what and how of the life-
world of the other.
4. What are the central features of symbolic interactionist? Explain these. SI is the study of the wa in which people
make sense of their life-situations and accomplish their activities, in conjunction with others, on a day-to-day basis – it
studies the way in which people do things within the context of community life. Central features:
- the notion that human life is group life – human life is intersubjective in its essence (intersubjective – sharedness of
meanings). Humans cannot be understood apart from the community context that they live in – people derive their
essence from their communities. There can be no self without the other.
- It is the attainment of language that makes the possession of a “self” possible (Mead). Language provides a basis for
which people establish common understandings and it is through ongoing (symbolic) interaction with others that
people learn about other and gets a better sense of their self.
5. How do symbolic interactionists study deviance? Tell what these involve. They approach the study of deviance as
one of many manifestations of the human condition that people may develop in dealing with one another in the course
of community life.
They take a distinctive, comparatively recent approach to deviance. Focus on sociological approaches. Mindful of the
emergent nature of human lived experience. Open to the participants viewpoints and doesn‟t impose their own concept
on the participant.
Ethnographers rely primarily on three sources Observation (encompasses visual and audio senses, documents, diaries,
records, maps, etc.), Participant-observation (allows the researcher to get much closer to the lived experiences of the
participants – more active roles as the research tries to fit into the dynamic settings at hand), and interviews (open-
ended inquiries into the experience of others) in order to achieve intimate familiarity with the life worlds of those they
People studying people should attend to the 7 premises of symbolic interactionism: to the intersubjective nature of
human behaviour, the viewpoints of those they are studying, the interpretations or meanings people attach to
themselves and others, people‟s attempts to influence others, the bonds people develop over time, and the processes
people experience over time.
To study deviance, one must overcome or permeate the deviant mystique – they must look past or through the
repulsions, auras, fascinations that surround deviance and to concentrate on the ways in which the people involved in
all aspects of the deviance process work out their activities with other in the community.
Theatres of Operations (Chapter 3 in DM)
1. Is deviance synonymous with difference?
2. To what does the "deviant mystique" refer?
3. Why is it important that students of deviance be attentive to the deviant mystique?
4. Who are the people who contribute to the deviant mystique? In what ways do they do this? Elaborate as much as
you can (chpts 1-3). See below.
Tell what the Deviant Mystique is all about.
The Deviant Mystique considers the great many people who may become involved in the production of deviance in
community life and the various roles that these people play in the process.
1. In what ways do people participate in deviance? What roles do they assume in the deviance-making process?
Five forms of participation:
a. Practitioners – those who participate more actively in particular forms of deviant activity – they experience a
fuller sense of what deviance involves and move beyond notions of the deviant mystique.
b. Supporting casts – those who make contact with particular deviants for their own personal or economic
advantages. They play integral roles in facilitating and accommodating deviance. They may not be interested
in becoming practitioners themselves but they provide goods and services or places for practitioners to
use/meet at (for example a bar, restaurant, or hotel and drugs or gambling).
c. Implied parties – people who live with or have close relations with those they know to be deviants (ex: family,
friends, and neighbours).
d. Vicarious Participants – experiencing aspects of the situation of someone in one‟s mind. “Mindedness” allows
one to play deviance without totally embracing the notions in practice. They can do so in idealized settings
and can experience deviance from a distance. Some of these participants may become an actual participant in
deviance but most are highly receptive to the mindedness they do.
e. Targets – those who identify themselves as recipients of unwanted features of the behaviours of others.
Victims and villains. Rather than deny a target role one must be attentive to the viewpoints of all parties
involved and of the interchangeable positions as targets and tacticians.
Five roles that people involved in the control of deviance may engage:
a. Spotting trouble – Someone defines something as troublesome, threatening, disconcerting.
b. Raising consciousness – Someone promoting particular moral codes in a community, alerting others of a
problem at hand and seeking solutions to that problem. They often have supporters in the community and are
given authority for dealing with problems.
c. Identifying deviants – labeling people as deviant
d. Regulating deviance – people try to deal with troublesome cases by either doing nothing, trying to change the
perpetrators, alter their own behaviours, or refer troublesome cases to third parties.
e. Providing secondary aid – Lawyers, counselors, therapists, social workers – those who work with people
participating in deviance.
f. Those who talk about deviance in some capacity also participate in deviance because what they say generates
images and understandings of deviance, whether what they say is true or not.
Five important sources of talk about deviance:
a. Interpersonal Exchange – interpersonal networks and causal talk about others is a central means of conveying
information about specific people within communities. Can be in the form of rumors and secrets.
**the final exam has 3 major written questions (essay and short answer formats). A negative quality attributed to some activity or actors by an audience. It is any activity, actor, idea, or humanly produces situation that an audience defines as negative (threatening, evil, immoral, offensive) in some way. It is an inevitable component of community life. Deviance is social in its definition deviance is brought into existence only when something is so defined by an audience. The deviant mystique is auras, fascinations, interests, curiosities, and related images that people develop with respect to deviance. One person may see something as bad or forbidden while another sees it as good, interesting or fun. Certain situations may appear even more alluring to some people because they are forbidden by others in the public. The deviant mystique refers to the allures and fascinations, the anxieties and fears, and the repulsions that people associate with wrongdoing and morality.