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Chapter 4

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University at Buffalo
SOC 101
Christopher Mele

Ivan Chao 10/10/13 Chapter 4: Social Structure and Social Interaction This chapter is divided into two parts with two levels of analysis: social structure (macrosociology) and social interaction (microsociology) The Two Levels of SociologicalAnalysis • Sociologists use two approaches to studying social life: o Macrosociology (focusing on the broad features of social structure) used by functionalists and conflict theorist o Microsociology (concentrating on small-scale, face-to-face social interactions between people) used by symbolic interactionists Part I: MacrosociologicalAnalysis of Social Structure • What is “social structure”? (#1, #2, #3??) o Social structure refers to the framework that surrounds us, consisting of the relationships of people and groups to one another, which give direction and set limits on human behavior. o Recall Durkheim’s concept of “social facts” o Aperson’s location in the social structure—his or her social class and social status; the roles he or she are assigned to play; and the culture, groups, and social institutions to which he or she belongs—underlie his or her perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors. o All of the components of social structure work together to maintain social order by limiting, guiding, and organizing human behavior. • The major components of social structure include culture, social class, social status, roles, groups, and social institutions o Social class – One’s class location is based on income, education, and occupational prestige. Alarge number of people with similar incomes, education levels, and occupational prestige make up a social class.  Determines: residence, health outcomes, education, health and mental  For conflict theorists, class is the primary element of social structure that determines individual’s fates o Social status – Describes the position that a person occupies in a society or a social group  Social status is a recognized position that an individual occupies willingly or unwillingly.  Statuses are socially defined not individually defined. Statuses define who and what we are in relation to others. Differs from the concept of identity.  Statuses guide social interaction—each status involves particular duties, rights and expectations. EX. Mother, father, child statuses in family. Professor and student statuses in a classroom  Statuses are classified in terms of how individuals obtain them  Ascribed status – social positions a person either inherits at birth (e.g., race, ethnicity, sex) or receives involuntarily later in life (e.g., teenager, adult, senior citizen). Individuals have little or no choice—the status is ascribed  Achieved status – a social position that someone assumes voluntarily and that reflects personal ability and effort (e.g., an athlete, a good student, a thief) Individual has significant choice—status is achieved  Many statuses involve a combination of ascription and achievement  Each status a person occupies, whether it is prestigious or not so prestigious, ascribed or achieved, provides guidelines for how s/he should act or feel.  People often flash status symbols such as wedding rings, expensive jewelry, and luxury cars to announce their statuses to others. In simplest terms, a status symbol is any item used to identify a status.  Master status – a status that cuts (or dominant) across the other statuses an individual occupies.Astatus that has exceptional importance for social identity, often shaping a person’s entire life. Can be ascribed or achieved. EX occupation (achieved), sex (ascribed)  Status Inconsistency – a contradiction or mismatch between statuses—a gas station attendant with a Ph.D., for example. o Roles – Roles are the behaviors, obligations, and privileges attached to a status. The difference between a role and a status is that a person occupies a status (ex. Being a male), but plays a role, such as acting tough.  One individual occupies several statuses at the same time = status set Wife, mother, teacher, researcher Mother: maternal role, civic role Wife: domestic role, conjugal role Teacher: teacher role, colleague role Researcher: laboratory role, author role  Role conflict (among several statuses) – refers to incompatibility among roles corresponding to two or more different statuses. Individual feels pulled in several directions related to demands of statuses EX. couldn’t study for exam because of part-time working as a student and employee. !!!!!Every day is regulated by a structure that exists outside of ourselves!!!!!! EX. Test date is set by teacher… or this class ends at 6:20 and we’re not forced to stay  Role strain (within one status) – refers to incompatibility among roles corresponding to a single status. Difficulty of being friendly and supervisory at work.  Role exit – process by which people disengage from social roles that have been central to their lives. EX. Nuns, ex-doctors, ex-alcoholics – trouble adjusting to a new role o Groups – Agroup consists of people who regularly and consciously interact with one another and, ordinarily, share similar values, norms, and expectations.  Decision-making tends to move from the individual to the collective (or group level); for example, peer pressure, notions of belonging EX. Young Johnny sets something in school on fire o Social Institutions –Abroad definition of social institutions is the organized, usual, or standard ways by which society meets it basic needs  Social institutions tend to be more formal in industrialized societies and more informal in tribal societies EX. Nursed elderly, but now we have institutions of nursing homes  In industrial and post-industrial societies, the major social institutions are the family, religion, law, politics, economics, education, science, medicine, the military, and the mass media  Social institutions establish the context in which people live, shaping their priorities, obligations, activities, relationships, behaviors, thoughts, and orientations.  Functionalists and conflict theorists disagree over the purposes for and effects of social institutions.  Functionalists emphasize the positive aspects of social institutions and argue that social institutions exist because they meet universal ne
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