Social Interaction

Social interaction
process by which people act and react in relation to others
-According to Blumer: human beings interpret and define each others actions instead of merely reacting
Why is Social Structure Important?
to regulate social interaction and to expect certain behaviors
preset notions about certain types of situations

– help us to understand other people’s verbal and nonverbal behavior

refers to a social position an individual occupies
status set
refers to all statuses that an individual occupies
ascribed status
social status into which we are born and which we cannot change or that we acquire involuntarily over the life course
achieved status
position that we acquire over time as a result of our own actions and efforts
master status
social position that is exceptionally powerful in determining an individuals identity, often to the point where other statuses are virtually ignored
– can be either positive or negative
negative master status
status inconsistency
sometimes the different social positions that make up an individuals status set does not fit together smoothly because they are ranked at different levels
– class system is status inconsistent whereas caste system is status consistent
refers to behavior that is expected of someone who holds a particular social position
– we occupy a status but we play a role
role set
number of roles attached to a single status
role strain
tension among the roles connected to a single status
role conflict
conflict among the roles connected to two or more statuses
Social Construction of Reality
process by which individuals creatively shape reality through social interactions
– based on concept that events are open to interpretation, because interpretation differ a common base of communication must be found
– we construct the reality we experience
social reality
developed based on the most common interpretation of physical reality within a society
Thomas Theorem
states that situations we define as real become real in their consequences
ex. a teacher who believes a student is academically gifted will expect exceptional academic performances
– behavior depends not on objective reality of situation but on our subjective interpretation of reality
– help us understand how everyday aspects of our society are socially constructed
subfield of sociology developed by Harold Garfinkel, it studies the way people make sense of their everyday lives
-strategy to reveal assumptions people have about their social world
How do people make sense of their everyday lives?
– break the unspoken rules of interactions (violate folkways)
dramaturgical analysis
analysis of social interaction in terms of theatrical performance (Erving Goffman)
Elements of Dramaturgical Analysis
1. presentation of the self
2. individuals performance includes dress, props and manner
3.non verbal communication
4.gender and performance
5. idealization
6. Embarrassment and tact
7. Humor
presentation of the self
efforts of an individual to create specific impressions in the minds of others (impression management)
non verbal communication
body language, involves communications using body movements, gestures, facial expressions instead of speech
Gender and performance
Demeanor- outward way in which an individual behaves, especially toward others (way we act and carry ourselves)

deference- respectful submissions or yielding to the judgement of another

use of space- personal space refers to surrounding area over which a person makes some claim to privacy

staring, smiling and touching

study of rules in a culture about personal space
construct performances to idealize our intentions, we try to convince others that our actions reflect ideal cultural standards rather than selfish motives
embarrassment and tact
results from slip ups that occur during a performance, tact refers to helping the performer recover from a flawed performance
the way we present ourselves to others
– both conscious (intentional action) and unconscious(nonverbal communication)
the social construction of feelings
– the same basic emotions are biologically programmed into all human beings, but cultures guide what triggers an emotion
the social construct of gender, language defines men and women as different types of people
reality play
the social construction of humor
-humor results from difference between conventional and unconventional definitions of a situation

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