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SOC103H1 Study Guide - Final Guide: Erving Goffman, Symbolic Interactionism, Thomas Luckmann

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Institution: a relatively stable, shared pattern of behavior based on relatively stable
values, meets peoples most important needs
-We learn to behave in similar ways to one another
Social institutions are stable patterns of behavior created and maintained
through social interaction (a socially recognized pattern of interrelated acts)
All social structures: control us, change us, both resist and produce social
change, sociology is the study of social structures
Auguste Comte invented word “sociologie”-a division of science concerned
with human beings
Today: the study of predictable/recurring relations among human beings &
social institutions and societies people create through such relations
We can’t see social structures except by its effects
Two social crises were important for development of sociology: Industrial
Revolution thrust people into new kinds of economic relationships & the
French Revolution thrust people into new kinds of political relationships
Sociology today incorporates “multiple narratives & perspectives”, how we
know what we know, how we view and judge different images and theories
of reality
3 Aims of Sociology: 1) to find and explain patterns in people’s social
relations 2) question “common sense” and the received wisdom about the
way society works 3) to solve social problems and find better ways of living
Parentification: adolescents’ adoption of adult family roles by providing
instrumental or emotional support from their parents, causes depression,
anxiety and faulty relationships, more common in immigrant families due to
adolescent-parent acculturation gap: children acculturate faster
German born versus ethnic immigrant adolescents & their mothers, 2010/11
in 3 German cities, questionnaires anon completed
Immigrant children are more parentified than native born children:
emotional & instrumental
Marital dissatisfaction of mothers has no effect on immigrant Parentification
Language brokering and an acculturation gap predicted both kinds of
Parentification: translation for parents, & inter-ethnic contact for both
mother and children
Instrumental Parentification led to self-efficacy in both adolescent groups
(self confidence)
High levels of emotional Parentification led to exhaustion in the immigrant
group (but not in native group: more economic, cultural, & social capital)
CONCLUSION: instrumental parentification is an asset, emotional
Parentification is a risk factor (exhaustion)
SOCIOLOGY: studying similar problems around the globe, studying & solving
peoples problems, concerned about issues of the day, rooted in history,

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testing hypotheses, empirical, incremental, open-ended, connected to other
Schools of Thought:
Functional theory: views society as a set of interconnected parts that work
together to preserve the overall stability and efficiency of the whole, social
institutions perform both manifest (obvious) and latent (not obvious)
functions-functionalists explain social problems by focusing on the failure of
institutions to do what we expect of them during times of rapid change
Conflict theories: always about unequal distribution of power, emerged as
reaction to functionalism, structural functionalists paid too little attention to
social conflict/change, conflict usually has social functions: why universal
and never-ending?
Symbolic interactionists: what holds people together in social relationships:
shared meanings, definitions, interested in the processes of interaction by
which people make and use symbols to construct a society, we build society
together, everyday called “social constructionism”
Labeling theory: rests on premise that any social problem is only viewed as
such because an influential group of ppl defines it so
Herbert Blumer: all social problems develop in stages that always include: 1)
social recognition 2) social legitimating 3) mobilization for action 4)
implementation of plan
Feminism: how gender inequality makes womens’ lives are different from
men’s, domination of women is not biological, it is socio-economic and
cultural factors, 1) erasing women’s social inequality 2) gendering of
experiences 3) Victimization of women 4) Intersectionality
Postmodernism: unmasking ideologies that protect/justify dominant social
order, modernism= science=truth about reality, postmodernism denies this,
reality is fragmentary, disjointed, conflicting accounts of reality, denying
universal knowledge
Parentification study:
Functionalism: effects of parentification, disruption of family roles on
emotional problems of adolescents
Conflict theory: harmful effects of inequality
Symbolic interactionism: study showed but didn’t explain why immigrant
children were empowered by parentification
Emile Durkheim’s SUICIDE: based on “sociological method”: systematic
analysis of suicide statistics-social causes and meaning of suicide
1) Egoistic suicide: ppl leave social groups they belong to, groups’ bonds
weakened by excessive individualism
2) Anomic suicide: absence of social norms, after sudden social disturbance
3) Fatalistic suicide: excessive social regulation
Suicide is highest when: absence of integration
Functionalism: society set of interconnected elements that operate together
to maintain stability of society, social institutions may fail to fulfill their
intended functions during rapid change, then problems emerge

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John Porter: “The Vertical Mosaic”: examines inequalities that different
ethnic groups face in Canadian society, Canada= class-based inequality, gv’t
response: increasing access to education, Porter called for cultural
assimilation-worked in US, DID NOT support multicultural ethnic
mosaic=perpetuated ethnic inequality (now its race and class)
Erving Goffman: “Stigma”: symbolic interactionism focuses on micro-
sociological processes around interaction, communication, and negotiation of
shared meanings, studying peoples face to face interaction, the ways people
made sense of their lives, relationships and presented themselves to others
Passing: effort to hide discreditable, stigmatizing facts about one’s identity
Covering: keep discredited features from gaining attention
Usually, they don’t work so people deal with pains of stigma by forming
subcultures with people like themselves
Goffman: how social structures arise out of processes by which people
interpret and respond to one another
Symbolic interactionists: view society as the product of interaction between
people in everyday social relationships, society is dynamic, changing
“Definition of the situation”: emerge out of interpersonal negotiations,
definitions we work out and impression we give one another have
consequences for how people interact with us
Peter Berger & Thomas Luckmann: “The Social Construction of Reality”: the
purpose of sociology is to understand reality of everyday life, how
experienced and organized
Symbolic interactionists: people react to shared meanings of events
Cities are the perfect venue to study populations and environments
Food/space are limited, overpopulation & effects on environment?
Large population puts more pressure on the natural environment than a
small population, also more likely to innovate, invent new technologies
Population composition plays a role in relation to human capital: higher
capital=high productivity and prosperity
Thomas Malthus: first to suggest population problems could threaten human
existence, without preventative checks, population would outgrow food
supply=”point of crisis”: ppl would die off in large numbers through famine,
disease or war
Positive checks: prevent overpopulation by increasing death rate, i.e.) war,
famine, disease
Preventative checks: prevent overpopulation by limiting number of live
births i.e.) abortion, contraception, abstinence, infanticide
Demographic transition theory: after decline of death rates, societies tend to
lower birth rates within one or two generations
Cities are where the most important social, cultural, political, and commercial
advances occur, size, variety, & fluidity promote social disorganization/weak
social control
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