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Byrm 2nd Edition notes to the Social Interaction Chapter. Insanely helpful for studying.

Course Code
Sheldon Ungar

of 12
Social Interaction t Brym Chapter 5 p. 135-155
What is Social Interaction?
Social Interaction: the creation of a novel (new) way for people to communicate
face to face, acting and reacting in relation to each other.
Overview of example used in this section:
o Airlines first opened during early 20s, hired cabin boys and stewards.
o dZv]vZïìvñìZP}À[PµoZ]vµÇUul]vPoo
airlines identical.
o Shortly after, they hired large numbers of women (stewardesses) as
glamorous sex objects to lure more clientele and differentiate each other
from their competition.
The Structure of Social Interaction
Status: recognized positions occupied by interacting people
- Each person occupies many statuses:
Status Set: the entire collection of statuses occupied by an individual
Ascribed Status: involuntary status t status that one is born into
Eg. Daughter
Achieved Status: voluntary status t acquired on the basis of merit
Eg. Flight Attendant
Master Status: status that is most influential in Z]vP}v[o]( at
a given time
Roles: Sets of expected behaviours (functions to perform)
- While people occupy statuses, they perform roles
Role Set: a cluster of roles attached to a single status
Eg. Someone occupying a flight attendant status may play the roles of in-
flight safety expert and server
Norms: Generally accepted ways of doing things. Norms often change over time
(How you go about carrying out these roles?)
Prescriptive Norms: what a person is expected to do while performing a
specific role
Proscriptive Norms: what a person is expected not to do while
performing a particular role
Example the book goes in depth with, may or may not be exam material
(skip if you want)
Case Study: Stewardesses and Their Clientele
Ellen Church t Á}o[(]Á
Main role to reassure apprehensive flyers they were in safe hands in the event of
an emergency (flying much more dangerous back then)
everyone wanted to fly with Braniff (airline company who introduced the idea)
À]]vP(ovÁÆ]}vµ}µv]vPZÁ[role as
sex objects
The Enforcement of Norms
o The expectations of passengers helped reinforce those norms
Until early 70s, could not be single or pregnant t had to be attractive, slim, good
smile and achieve certain IQ
Appear charming and solicitous (caring) - ,}ZÀ]oo[}Z
Role Conflict and Role Strain
Role Conflict: occurs when 2 or more statuses held at the same time place
contradictory role demands on a person
o d}Ç[(uo(o]PZvvuÇZÀ(µvv(}uZ}u
and be mothers/wives which require considerable time at home
Mom Flight Attendant
Demands and expectations placed on stewardesses in 60s maximized role strain
Role Strain: occurs when incompatible role demands are placed on a person in a
single status
o Constantly having to be suggestive while also politely warding off
unwanted/crude advances made the stewardess role very stressful
Be suggestive < Stewardess > Be polite
Change in Status
From 50s to early 80s, stewardesses much like celebrities - glamorous
ButY the pay and housing conditions they got were poor
Since that era, the status of stewardesses have changed into flight attendants
In 60s and 70s, they won changes in rules regarding marriage, pregnancy,
retirement and hiring of men
What Shapes Social Interaction?
Norms, roles and statuses* are the building bocks that structure our interaction
We typically think our interactions = outcomes of our emotional states
o Eg. We interact differently with people depending on if they make us
mad or make us laugh
We assume emotions are deeply personal states of mind evoked involuntarily as
a result of uncontrollable action t but our emotions are not as unique,
involuntary and uncontrollable as we are often lead to believe
These building blocks* µ]Z}]ouv[}ÀvZu(}u(oo]vP
apart and turning them into durable social structure - How is social structure
There are three main ways of maintaining social interaction thereby cementing
social structures and society as a whole (Modes of Interaction):
y by means of domination
y competition
y cooperation
First however, turn to problems of emotions beginning with laughter and
The Sociology of Emotions
Laughter and Humour
Robert Provine: did a research on laughing and genders
o Eavesdropped on 2-person groups (dyads)
o Wrote down who laughed and gender of speaker + listener
Speakers laugh more often than listeners do
Women laugh twice as often as men, even when they listen
But men get more laughs than women
Sociological Interpretation: laughter is unevenly distributed across the status
o High status t get more laughs
o Low status t laugh more
Eg. Downward Humour: in a psychiatric hospital, psychiatrists made residents
the target of their humour whereas the residents & paramedics targeted the
patients or themselves
Laughter is not as spontaneous as we think t signal of dominance or
subservience (compliant to authority)