Chapter 5: Social interaction
Feminist theory: emotions and the building blocks of social interaction
- Women laugh more than men
- The biggest discrepancy occurs when the speaker is a women and the listener is a man.
Women laugh twice as hard as men do.
- Even when a man is the speaker and the woman is the listener, women are more likely to
laugh than men are.
- Men are more likely to than women to engage in long monologues and interrupt when
others are talking.
- Men are much less likely to ask for directions.
Social interaction: involves people communicating face to face or via computer and acting and
reacting in relation to other people. It is structured around norms, roles and statuses.
Status: refers to a recognized social position of an individual can occupy.
People with higher status, men laugh more, and people with lower status, women laugh more.
Laughter is a sign of who has a higher or lower status, social structures influences who laughs
more. Example: Class clowns are usually boys who make class laugh.
Roles: are sets of expected behaviours.
Example: students expect when the class gets dull, the class clown will brighten their day.
Norms: are generally accepted ways of doing things.
Example: classroom teachers punish class clowns for distracting the class.
Sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild studied emotion management. She coined the term emotion
Emotion management: involves people obeying “feeling rules” and responding appropriately to
the situations in which they find themselves.
Status set: a person occupies several positions or status at the same time, a mother, wife, flight
Role set: Each status has its own role, wife – expected to act as an intimate to her husband.
Role conflict: takes place when different role demands are places on a person by two or more
statues held at the same time. (Wife (take care of husband), mother (take care of kids), flight
attendant (expect to be available for scheduled flights)). Role Strain: occurs when incompatible role demands are placed on a person in a single status.
(Flight attendant- be nice, or be rude to male passengers).
How we get emotional:
1- External stimulus – grizzly bear attack
2- Psychological response and initial emotion – pulse rate increase, experience fear
3- Cultural script – you have learned that playing dead increases chances that bear will not
4- Modified emotional response – still fearful, you act according to the cultural script, which
gives you hope
Emotion labour: is emotion management that many people do as part of their job and for which
they are paid.
Women do more emotional labour than men do. Ex: teacher disciplining students, nursing
The growth of economy requires more social labour.
Emotions in historical perspective
Three examples from the social history of emotions:
1) Grief – in Europe in the late 1600, life expectancy was only about 35 years and infants
died at birth, infectious diseases destroyed populations. So grief back then was different
than todays. People would not feel so emotionally sad if their kids died, however today,
because of the emotional investment in children increased, grief to children deaths last
2) Anger – the growth of industries and markets in the 19 century turned the family into
heartless. Women had to control their anger most of the time and teach their kids to
control anger to have a harmonious household.
3) Disgust – Manners in Europe in the Middle Aged were disgusting. People would burp
and eat with their hands. Members of high society would do the same. Good manners
served as to who has power and who didn’t. Things change now, forks are introduced, the
handkerchief, and he nigh dress.
- Social interaction is norm-based communication between people occupying statues and
- Emotions are an important component of social interaction. Social position shapes the
expression of emotion. - Forms of emotional management and emotional labour vary across social contexts and
Conflict theories of social interaction:
Competing for attention
Charles Derber concluded that North Americans usually try to turn conversations toward
themselves, giving themselves the attention.
Derbers analysis is influenced by conflict theory, which holds that social interaction involved
competition over valued resources. Such resources include attention, approval, prestige,
Variants of the conflict theory of interaction
Exchange theory: holds that social interaction involves trade in valued resources.
Exchange theorists argue that all social relationships involve a literal give and take. When people
talk they exchange valued resources (money, information, pleasure, attention) or punishments.
With payoffs, relationships endure and can give rise to various organizational forms. Without
payoffs, relationships end.
Rational choice theory: focuses on the way interacting people weigh the benefits and costs of
interaction. According to rational choice theory, interacting people always try to maximize
benefits and minimize costs.
Rational exchange theory focuses less on the resources exchanged than on the way interacting
people always try to maximize benefits and minimize costs. Business people want to keep their
expenses to a minimum so they can keep their profits as high as possible. Everyone wants to gain
the most from their interactions – socially, emotionally, and economically- while paying the
Interacting with parities with payoffs increases the relationship. Unequal payoff mean trouble.
The greater the inequality of payoffs to interacting parties the greater the chance that conflict will
erupt and lead to a breakdown in the interaction.
Power and Social Interaction
Power: is the capacity to carry out one’s own will despite resistance.
Conflict theorists of social interaction emphasize that when people interact, their statuses are
often arranged in a hierarchy. People on top enjoy more power than those in the bottom. In face-
to-face communication the degree of inequality (rich and poor) strongly affects the character of
social interaction. There are two extreme cases:
Domination: is a mode of interaction in which nearly all power in concentrated in the hands of
people of high status. Fear is the dominant emotion in systems of interaction based on
Domination, is all power concentrated in the hands of people of high status, whereas people of
low status enjoy almost no power. Ex: guards versus prisoners in camps.
Cooperation: is a basis for social interaction in which is more or less equally distributed
between people of different status. The dominant emotion in cooperative interaction is trust.
Cooperation is when power is more or less equally distributed between people of different status.
Cooperation is based on feelings of trust. Example; a high level of trust between spouses in
causes less divorce and more love.
Competition: is a mode of interaction in which power is unequally distributed but the degree of
inequality is less than in systems of domination. Envy is an important emotion in competitive
Sociologist Randall Collins has shown that bosses who treat their worker better, their worker will
more likely enjoy the work.
Mode of Cooperation
Mode of Interaction Domination Competition Cooperation
Level of inequality - High - Medium - Low
Characteristic emotion - Fear - Envy - Trust
Efficiency - Low - Medium - High
- When people interact they exchange valued resources or punishments. With payoffs,
relationships endure and can give rise to various organizational forms. Without payoffs,
relationships end. Interacting people generally try to maximize benefits and minimize
costs. These are the main insights of the conflict theory of social interaction.
- Domination, competition, and cooperation are the main modes of interaction. Each mode
is characterized different levels of inequality (high, medium and low), characteristic
emotions (respectively, fear, envy, and trust) and different degrees of efficiently
(respectively, low, medium and high) Symbolic Interaction:
George Herbert Mead said we interpret other people’s words and nonverbal signals to understand
how they see us, and we adjust our behaviour to fit their expectations about how we ought to
Goffman’s Dramaturgical Analysis
Dramaturgical Analysis: views social interaction as a sort of play in which people present
themselves so that they appear in the best possible light.
Front stage: requires the use of props, set gestures and memorized line. Ex: server at a restaurant.
Role Distancing: involves giving the impression that we are just “going through the motions”
but actually lack serious commitment to a role.
Role distancing means when people play an embarrassing role or that is beneath them and give
the impression that the role they are playing is not their “true” self. Example; my parents force
me to sing at church choir, I work at McDonalds to earn a few dollars then I’m going back to
Impression management: people typically place themselves in the best-possible light. Example;
when students enter medical school, they wear a white lab coat to set themselves apart from
patients. Students also ask doctors questions that they know the answer too so they can give off
the impression that they are smart.
Ethnomethodology: is the study of how people make sense of what others do and say by
adhering to pre-existing norms.
Ethnomethodologists stress that everyday interactions could not take place without pre-existing
shared norms and understandings. – the norm of moving to the right to avoid bumping into an
oncoming pedestrian and the norm of civil inattention are both examples of pre-existing shared
norms and understandings.
Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication
Computers find it difficult to make sense of the social and cultural context in which language is
used. Humans must be able to reduce ambiguity and make sense of words to become good
translators. They do so by learning the nuances of meaning in different cultural and social
contexts over an extended time. Nonverbal cues assist them in this task.
Facial expressions: Most researchers believe that six emotions are similar across cultures: happiness, sadness, anger,
disgust, fear and surprise.
Status Cues: are visual indicators of a person’s social position.
Stereotypes: are rigid views of how members of various groups act, regardless of whether
individual group members really behave that way.
Example: a police officer (status cue) always stopping a young black male driver (stereotype).
Page 125, chart.
The significance of the mass media:
Mass Media: are print, radio, television, and other communication technologies. The word mass
implies that the media reach many people. The word media signifies that communication does
not take place directly through face-to-face interaction.
The first developed system of writing appeared in Egypt and Mesopotamia (southern Iraq).
The print media became a phenomenon in the 19 century.
20 century – electronic media
Print media dominated until the mid-twentieth century, since then electronic media have
Causes of Media Growth:
1) The Protestant Reformation – in the 16 century Catholics replied on priests to read the
bible. Martin Luther encouraged people to read the Bible and created a new form of
Christianity – Protestantism – and the Bible became the first mass media product in the
Technological improvements in papermaking and printing made the Bible possible.
Books are durable.
2) Democratic Movements – Political democracy promoted the growth of the mass media.
Television was beginning to redefine the very nature of politics, some people though
President Kennedy look better on television than Nixon because Nixon would fidget
while Kennedy was relaxed. Televisions have simplified politics, (images, slogans) and
politicians stage us now more important than his or her policies in determining success at
the polls. 3) Capitalist Industrialization – modern industries need a rapid means of communication to
do business in an efficient way. The mass media turned to be a major source of profit in
their own right.
Theories of Media effects:
Functionalism: Mass media functions
1) The mass media perform an important function by coordinating the operation of
industrial and post-industrial societies.
2) The mass media is also important agents of socialization.
3) The mass media also involves social control; helps ensure conformity. Example, TV,
reality TV pays attention to crimes. The media shows people what kind of people
deserves punishment and what people deserve rewards, in a way they produce moral
4) Provide entertainment. TVs, magazines and movies, give you pleasure, relaxation and
momentary escape from tensions of everyday life. Mass media relives stress.
- Suggest that dominant classes and political groups benefit from the mass media. The
mass media broadcasts injustice and inequalities. Also, the owners of mass media are
owned by a few people and it i
- highly profitable for them.
90% of mass media in Canada are privately owned.
More subtle mechanisms help to bias the news in a way that supports powerful corporate
interests and political groups:
1- Advertising: most of the money that television stations and radio stations come from
advertising, for the fear of losing business, news carriers may soften stories that big
advertisers might find offensive.
2- Sourcing: most news agencies rely heavily for information on press releases, interviews
and news conferences.
3- Flak: Governments and big corporations attack journalists who have their own points of
Specific government and corporate policies are often the subject of heated debate in the
mass media. Interpretive Approaches:
Only a small percentage of people who watch violence on TV are actually violent.
The two-step flow of communication between mass media and audience members involves:
1) Respected people of high status and independent judgment evaluating media messages, and
2) Other members of the community being influenced to varying degrees by these opinion
leaders. Because of the two- step flow of communication, opinion leaders filter media messages.
Audience interpret media messages:
Working class women tend to evaluate TV programs in terms of how realistic they are more than
middle class women do. Working class women tend to evaluate TV programs in terms of how
realistic the shows are.
Age matters too, seniors tend to be selective and focused on their TV show.
The idea that viewers are sponges, passively soaking up the values embedded in TV programs
and then mechanically acting on them, is inaccurate.
Press and Cole’s finding of women’s opinions after watching show about abortion to help
women get money:
1) Pro-life women from all social classes: they though abortion is never justified. They
rejected mass Media’s justification for abortion.
2) Pro-choice working-class women who thought of themselves as members of the working
class: said abortion is a survival strategy. But, feared that laws restricting abortion would
be applied prejudicially against women.
3) Pro-choice working-class women who aspired to middle-class status: tolerated abortion to
other people but rejected it for themselves and other “responsible” women.
4) Pro-choice middle-class women: believe that only individual’s women’s feeling can
determine abortion is right or wrong in her won case. Most of them rejected abortion on
Categories: 1, 2, 3, highly skeptical on abortion issue. Their class position and attitudes acted
as filters influencing how they reacted to TV shows and how they viewed the abortion issue.
Categories; 2, 3, 4, rejected the simple pro-choice versus pro-life. Summing Up:
- Interpretive approaches remind us that audience members are people, not programmable
robots. We filter, interpret, resist, and sometimes reject media messages according to our
own interests and values.
- Feminist approaches highlight the misrepresentation of women and members of racial
minorities in the mass media. They also emphasize the ways in which women and
members of racial minorities have successful challenged these misrepresentations and
sought to diversity the characterization of race and gender by the mass media.
Domination and Resistance of the internet:
- Internet is expensive to individual users. Households that are richer, better educated,
urban and younger are most likely to enjoy internet access.
- Internet access is not distributed globally. Canada has 80% access to internet.
- Media Imperialism: is the domination of a mass medium by a single national culture
and the undermining of other national cultures.
- Example, the US domination of internet content.
- Media Convergence: is the blending of the World Wide Web, television, and other
communications media as new, hybrid media forms.
Chapter 8: Social Stratification
Patterns of social inequality
Social stratification: refers to the way in which society is organized in layers or strata.
Economic Inequality in Canada
Income distribution has changes a little 1951 and 2008. In 1951 and 2008 the bottom quintile
received 6.1% of total income (before tax). At the top end, the richest quintile increased its share
of total income slightly from 4.1 percent to 43.4 percent.
Explanations of Income In equality
Some individuals earn high salaries because of their talent.
Raw talent needs to be sharpened, by training coaching. Effort alone is not enough to earn
money, talent and education is needed.
Human Capital: is the sum of useful skills and knowledge that an individual possess. Explanation for income inequality:
Natural Talent Rewards
Natural Talent + Effort --- Rewards
Natural Talent + Effort + Skill-rich environment+ Developed Skills -------- Rewards
Natural Talent + Effort + Skill-rich environment + Developed Skills + Social and cultural capital
Social Capital: refers to the networks or connections that individual possesses.
Individuals are more likely to succeed if they have strong bond of trust, cooperation, mutual
respect and obligation with well-positioned individuals or families.
Cultural Capital: is the stock of knowledge, tastes, and habits that legitimate the maintenance
of status and power.
Connections and culture help you find a good job.
Natural talent and effort are important. For most Canadians, level of education is a critical factor
in finding continuous, well-paying employment. Social and cultural capitals are consequential
for many people in finding economic success.
Income versus Wealth
Only a few families acquire the great wealth of major business enterprises.
Most families own assets. Car, some appliances, furniture.
Somewhat wealthier families also have equity in a house (minus the mortgage).
Most fortunate families are able to acquire other assets, stocks, bonds retirement savings and
The bottom 40% of families owns no assets.
The bottom 20% owes more than they own.
The assets owned by the bottom 40% of families shrank.
US: 62% of the increase in national wealth in the 1990s went to the richest 1 percent of
Americans and fully 99% of the increase went to the richest 20% Income and Poverty
- At the bottom of the income distribution are the homeless.
- Number of people with no fixed address has increased.
- Disagreement question: how is poverty considered poverty? Through income?
- Deprivation: occurs when a family cannot acquire the essentials, not necessarily when
income is too low.
- Poverty is measured not by just income but by social policies that are enacted, or not