Chapter 3: Social Structure
How does a person react when encountering a police officer? Our primary socialization- our earliest
childhood training- initially causes us to view certain characters (Police Officers, teachers, to treat with
respect and honor). Even with people of not of certain status, we would do anything to avoid blame or
humility. In essence, we follow a social script.
We follow a number of scripts, many are unconscious. Consider the example of the desire to hang out
with a friend however you have homework because you are a student. How do you decide what role to
play? Your social script answers this question.
SOCIAL SCRIPT- Guidelines that people follow to carry out interactions and fulfill role expectations
as seamlessly as possible.
Consider groups that you may have been a part of. Groups have a very large influence as it defines your
position (status) in that group. A leader or a follower? It shapes your role as an individual and how you
establish yourself in society.
People in large organizations often feel estranged from their jobs, since both the size of a bureaucracy
and the ways bureaucracies achieve their goals can be largely impersonal.
Classic Studies: Early 1960s, few in-depth studies that focused primarily on deviant roles.
Howard Becker- Influenced by the work of Everret C. Hughes. He was a professional Jazz
musician, it was this role that led to his involvement with the subjects of his research in the classic
work Outsiders (1963). Becker sets the groundwork for labeling theory. He explains social groups
create deviance by making rules whose infraction constitutes deviance and by applying these rules to
particular people and 'labeling' them as outsiders (Group Expelling). Outsider's status is really due not
to any failing on their part but to their actions and the way people respond to their actions.
Becker stresses a sequential rather than a simultaneous model of deviance. Deviance described
by Becker is a process of becoming someone outside of a community of accepted rules. For example,
marijuana and jazz music.
Initiation- first becoming a deviant- requires a progressively greater commitment to norms and
institutions that endow the deviant action with meaning and value. This way a deviant acquires a
community within a subgroup and not solely from the larger 'straight' community. This requires an
interaction with an outside group and rejecting the views held by a common community.
Becker mentions to pay attention to Rule Enforcers along with Rule Violators. “Why do we
label a particular behavior as deviant?”
Criticism- Becker's theory of deviance is that it ignores personal motivation. Becker admits that
in his model, deviant behavior in time produced the deviant motivation.
Becker's Outsider's was and remains on of sociology's most influential studies of deviant
individuals and their position in normal society.
IDENTITY, ROLES, and ROLESETS
Social scripts are associated with the dramaturgical approach of symbolic interactionism. This was
popularized by sociologist Erving Goffman.
In his book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959), he showed that social life is more fruitful
in terms of a theatrical production complete with costumes, scripts, audiences and roles. Social Role is
borrowed from theater and role from roll, scripts written. Goffman's approach is metaphoric to social life that allows us to predict how situations may unfold. It
helps explain the sheer fact of social factor. A predictable and enduring feature. We use costumes and
make-up to prepare ourselves for performances in particular situations (Prom night). In socially
scripted situations, we behave like actors. If one forgets lines, he or she feels out of place and
embarrassed. Social Scripts gives us a general outline of what to say and do.
Role- Particular roles provide us with social scripts, in essence what to say and do in a given situation.
It is the expected behavior of an individual in a social position and the duties associated with that
Identity- All the ways in which we view and describe ourselves (female/male, friend, student,
attractive) and in which others perceive. Symbolic interactionists argue that the social roles we play are
the main origin of our identities and, perhaps interact with and even conflict with our personalities.
Community- A group of people who interact and communicate often with one another and share
common interests, values, and goals. Membership is important.
Category Mobilization- Is what social movements are about, the gay rights movement. A demographic
category become a political movement hence a social community.
Charles Horton Cooley (1902) who formed the concept of the looking-glass self.
LOOKING-GLASS SELF- A process in which people come to see and value themselves as others see
them. The way others treat you influences how you treat and view yourself.
Goffman notes that roles and identities are so closely intertwined that the two overlap as suggested by
the concepts of Role Embracements, Role Distance, and Role Exit.
Role Embracements- A person willingly accepts both the social role and identity associated with it (a
Role Distance- Parents drop student off a few blocks from school entrance instead near front entrance.
Putting in distance between role obligations as affectionate and dependent.
Role Exit- The process of leaving a role. Rejection and the loss of certain activities. First student, then
graduate to become worker. Identity changed.
Interactionists argue that Identities are socially determined and not inborn like personality. We
internalize roles we play and become integral in our lives.
ROLE SET- The collection of roles any individual plays. Consider classic pairing of student-teacher,
husband-wife role sets. American sociologist Talcott Parsons discussed the doctor-patient pair. They
are both interdependent.
According to interactionists, social roles are unlike theatrical roles in they are not predetermined.
Moreover, individuals can exercise control over the roles they play.
George Herbert Mead- Early 20 century sociologist argued people adopt roles throughout their
lifetime in a process he called Role Taking.
ROLE TAKING- The process in which we take on existing defined roles. This is done by learning from people. We must take certain roles (student, intern and then doctor) to adopt a new role.
Mead's view- the interaction of roles depends mainly on symbol systems, especially language.
Language is a symbol that allows people to communicate.
Symbol- A thing that stands for or represent something else, and provides a means of communication
(through spoken words, written words, facial expression).
In elaborating Mead's theory, Ralph Turner (1962) introduced another concept of role change called
ROLE MAKING- The process of creating new social roles in and through interaction.
People invent new social roles with the assistance of others. However, this concept helps to identify a
major flaw in the interactionist approach, and a major difference between it and functionalism. A pair
of people may agree to make a new role but may not bind to society. Consider a role relationship
“Grokking” described in the science fiction book Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
(1969). Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed.
NOTE** This is a functionalist image of Society. New roles require STATUS: A person's social
position, which is associated with a role and its associated scripts. Without orderly agreement on status
hierarchy there are no stable roles thus no stable interaction.
RALPH LINTON- People play roles but occupy statuses.
ROLE CONFLICTS AND ROLE STRAINS
Due to the multiple roles people play, they sometimes have trouble fulfilling their entire role
requirement. A result of Role Conflict, when the demands of some roles conflict with the demands of
others (STRESS). Imagine when a person has to satisfy two or more incompatible roles (midterm test
vs. mother has a flu, which has a bigger priority).
First Mechanism- People prioritize social roles which allows a person to resolve role strain
Second Mechanism-Assigning priorities is like adopting a master status
Third Mechanism- Compartmentalization, the division of activities into categories (Keep
friends separate from family, etc.)
CLASSIC STUDIES- The sociology of secrecy and of secret societies. People do all sorts of things to
make their adherence to society's rules- and its social scripts. Everyone feels the need to deviate.
George Simmel was the first to study secrecy and secret societies.
GEORGE SIMMEL (1906) - His insights in social construction of deviance and deviant communities
helps us to understand the importance of secrecy, secret worlds. Our second world builds on our real
world. First world is the recognized world of socially acceptable activities. Our second world includes
hidden deviant activities (sexual affairs, drugs). Simmel said everyone uses secrets to create and
occupy second world. Secrecy is a normal part of social r