Chapter 6 – Social Interaction in Everyday Life
Sociology points to the many rules that guide behaviour in everyday situations. The more we
learn about the rules of social interaction, the better we can play the game.
Taking a ‘micro-level’ look at society, examining patterns of everyday social interaction.
Identify important social structures, including status and role. Explains how we construct reality
through social interaction. Applies the lessons learned to everyday experiences involving emotion,
gender and humour.
Social interaction: process by which people act and react in relation to others.
SOCIAL STRUCTURE: A GUIDE TO EVERDAY LIVING
Status: a social position that a person holds (status is part of social identity and helps define our
relationship to others >>professor, student; not prestige). Before we can deal with anyone, we need to
know who the person is.
- Status Set refers to all of the statuses a person holds at a given time (I am a daughter, sister,
mother, aunt, student, employee, runner, writer)
- Ascribed and Achieved Status
o Ascribed status is a social position that someone receives at birth or assumes
involuntarily later in life. (daughter, teenager, aboriginal)
o Achieved status is a social position that someone assumes voluntarily and that reflects
personable ability and effort. (athlete, spouse, thief)
o Most statuses involve some combination of ascription and achievement
- Master Status is a status that has exceptional importance for social identity, often shaping a
person’s entire life. (Occupation, family, being a Trudeau has some meaning attached to it;
serious disease also operates as a master status)
Role: behaviour expected of someone who holds a particular status. (your role as daughter is to…)
- Role Set is a number of roles attached to a single status. (I am a mother, student, spouse and
daughter – as a mother I have a role as a parent and disciplinary; as a student I have the role as a
studier and intellect; as a spouse I have a marital role and a domestic role…)
- Role Conflict and Role Strain
o Role conflict is conflict among the roles connected to two or more situations. (Finding
ourselves pulled in various directions – politician not running because of family
o Role strain is tension among the roles connected to a single status. (Teacher may enjoy
getting to know students but must maintain professional relationship)
- Role Exit: process by which people disengage from important social roles
Social Construction of Reality
Social construction of reality: the process by which people creatively shape reality through social
interaction. It is central to sociology and specifically to symbolic interactionism. It means that people
create, recreate, and maintain social reality through social interaction. Social interaction amounts to
negotiating reality (first date rules, living together rules). For the symbolic interactionist, the important
elements in this restructuring (common law relationships) of social life are the personal decisions made
in choosing cohabitation. Human beings create reality, their own reality.
- The Thomas Theorem: situations we define as real become real in their consequences. (although
reality is initially ‘soft’ it can become ‘hard’ in its effects; Donny has the ability to lead a double
- Ethnomethodology: the study of the way people make sense of their everyday surroundings
(when we ask ‘how are you’, sometimes we really want to know the deeper answer; can uncover
assumptions by breaking the rules)
- Reality Building: Class and Culture – people do not build everyday experience out of thin air. o Culture explains how people the world over find different meanings in specific gestures,
so that inexperienced travellers can find themselves building an unexpected and
Dramaturgical Analysis: “The Presentation of Self”
Dramaturgical analysis is the study of social interaction in terms of theatrical performance.
*Erving Goffman; offers fresh look at the concepts of status and role; status is like a part in the play and
role serves as the script or role being played.
Presentation of self is a person’s efforts to create specific impressions in the minds of others.
Process of impression management begins with the idea of personal performance
- Performances include he way we dress (costume), objects we carry (props), tone of voice
(manner), location (set)
o Look at it from the perspective of a doctor’s visit. Stage is office, dress is lab coat, object
is chart, grand entrance, backstage the office staff and doctor prepare
- Non-verbal communication: communication using body movements, gestures, and facial
expressions rather than speech (b