Social Interaction, Social Structure and Groups
Saturday, March 1, 2014 5:33 PM
I. Social Interaction: The way people respond to one another.
a. Response to someone's behavior is based on the meaning we attach to his or her
b. Reflect the norms and values of the dominant culture and our socialization
experiences within that culture.
II. Social Structure: The way society is organized into predictable relationships, work
III. Elements of Social Structure - Structures Come in Different Forms Including:
a. Statuses - Refer to any of the full range of socially defined positions within a large
group of society, from the lowest to the highest.
i. Ascribed Statuses: Assigned to a person by society without regard for the
person's unique talents or characteristics.
1) Generally takes place at birth.
2) Ex. Racial background, gender, age etc.
3) Associated with conflict theory since they often confer privileges or reflect
a person's membership in a subordinate group.
ii. Achieved Statuses: Comes mostly through our own efforts.
1) Ascribed statuses heavily influence achieved statuses.
iii. Master Statuses: A status that dominates others and thereby determines a
person's general position in society.
b. Social Roles - A set of expectations for people who occupy a given social position or
i. Role Conflict - Occurs when incompatible expectations arise from two or more
social positions held by the same person.
1) Fulfillment of the roles associated with one status may directly violate the
roles linked to a second status.
ii. Role Strain - Describe the difficulty that arises when the same social position
imposes conflicting demands and expectations.
iii. Role Exit - Describe the process of disengagement from a role that is central to
one's self-identity in order to establish a new role and identity.
1) Ebaugh's four-stage model of role exit:
b) Search for alternatives
c) Action stage or departure
d) Creation of a new identity
c. Groups - Any number of people with similar norms, values, and expectations who
interact with one another on a regular basis.
i. Primary vs. Secondary Groups
1) Primary group - Refers to a small group characterized by intimate, face-to-
face association and cooperation.
2) Secondary group - Refers to a formal, impersonal group in which there is
little social intimacy or mutual understanding.
Primary Group Secondary Group
Generally small Usually large
Relatively long period of Relatively short in duration, often
Intimate, face-to-face Little social intimacy or mutual
association understanding association understanding
Some emotional depth to Relationships generally superficial
Cooperative, friendly More formal and impersonal
ii. In-groups, Out-groups, and Intergroup Relations
1) In-group - Defined as any group or category to which people feel they
a) In-group members typically feel distinct and superior, seeing
themselves as better than people in the out-group.
2) Out-group - A group or category to which people feel they don't belong.
iii. Reference Groups - Any group that individuals use as a standard for evaluating
themselves and their own behavior.
1) Serve a normative function by setting and enforcing standards of conduct
2) May help the process of anticipatory socialization.
iv. Exclusion and Group Boundaries
d. Social Institutions - Organized patterns of beliefs and behavior centered on basic
i. Functionalists Perspective
1) Replacing personnel
2) Teaching new recruits
3) Producing and distributing goods and services
4) Preserving order
5) Providing and maintaining a sense of purpose
ii. Conflict Perspective
1) Social institutions have an inherently conservative nature.