Week 2 Lecture Notes – Starting Points Ch. 3

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Lecture 02

The Dramaturgical Approach
-Think of social life as theatrical production, with costumes, scripts, audiences, and roles.
-Social scripts define how we are to act; also, who is an accepted part of “the cast” and who is not
-Scripts give us the *general outline* of what to say and do, but not the details

Theory by Goffman.
“He was a very very weird guy.” – Tepperman
“He wasn’t an endearing guy, but more like a psycho. I can say that because he’s dead.” – Tepppy
One suspicious guy.

All our social activities are situated. We have different expectations of people depending on location. Every social situation has its own ritual, etc.

*The dramaturgical approach* is concerned with the relationship between roles, scripts, and identities.
(Well, more like a metaphor. Actually all theorizing is metaphorical.)

Identities are very idiosyncratic and personal. We may never guess what a person’s identity may be. But the dramaturgical approach says that people’s identity is shaped by the roles they play. There’s a connection between the roles we play and the way we think about ourselves.
Outside -> inside.

The dramaturgical approach is an assumption. But now that we’ve made an assumption – is it true? Does it work?
(The scientific method.)

Why do we need scripts?
-Most of us have *some* idea how to act in certain situations.
-e.g. dating – we never were handed a script before we started dating!
-But we don’t always do this well! We need a rough “script”.
-scripts provide guidelines for what to do and say
-breach these expectations can lead to interrupted interaction
-scripts are found in etiquette books and magazines, etc.

Roles == Identities ???!!??!?!
Roles shape identities!

Labelling theory
We gain an understanding of who w are by seeing how other people view or treat us.
**looking-glass self**
Founded by Charles Horton Cooley (1902)
The way others treat you affects how you treat yourself.
e.g. parents
“We read it in other people’s eyes. We know whether we’re a troll or whether we’re a goddess from other people’s eyes.” – Teppy

“We are social beings. We want at least some people to think that we are socially valuable.” – Teppy
Negative feedback from society can be incapacitating!
e.g. Right after weird haircut.

*Secondary deviance* may include a career in rule-breaking
*secondary deviance*: response to a previous deviance act
(*primary deviance*: breaks (moral) rules.)

Whatever the reasons for our initial deviance, labelling can lead to repeated (ie. secondary) deviance.

Deviance -> Labelling -> Change in Self Concept <-> Change in Group affiliation (eg. joining a gang) -> (secondary) Deviance

This is the argument used in support for separate treatment for juvenile delinquency!

Embracement vs. Distance
-Usually roles and identities almost overlap
-Role embracement: a person willingly accepts both the social role and the identity associated with it
(“Endorse our engagement in it.” -Teppy)
-Sometimes a person takes on the role but signals separation from the values associated with that role
(“I’m gonna go through the motions, but I don’t wanna be here.” -Teppy)
e.g. Kid distancing himself from their parents near friends.

Roles become identities through internalization
-identities are based on social roles we play
-after a while, we internalize the roles we play so they become central parts of our identity
“I haven’t see formulas. But maybe there is one.” – Teppy
-in time, the new role/identity begins to structure your life
-you willingly take on other duties associated with the role
-e.g. becoming a “serious student”

Teppy’s story:
In high school he had a feeling that teachers don’t have a life outside of school! They materialize out of telephone booths or something every morning first period.
In second year graduate school Teppy had a sudden realization that HE IS A SOCIOLOGIST! He can’t draw the line anymore! :O

Learning roles is a lifelong effort
-George Herbert Mead: people adopt new roles throughout their lifetime
-they learn roles from people around them, as well as from society at large
-Role-taking is a dynamic process
-we enter and leave roles throughout life
-therefore, we enter and leave identities!
-some departure are hard: e.g. the military widow, the closet gay person

Teppy’s study. Military widows.
-tend to live on military base, all their friends are on the base
-the things they can do are extremely limited! traditional community.
-once your husband dies you need to move out of military base! You need to find another man! You need to find work! Put your kids to school! Huge changes!

Role-making vs. Role-taking
-we are playing scripts, but we are also inventing stuff!
-“role-making”: cooperative creative process that works through interaction
-people agree to invent new social roles together
-to break rules of dress or behaviour together
-but the above agreement does not bind the rest of society
-to survive, a social script must become widely know and accepted in the population (to have sociological significance)
-needs to form part of stable subculture
-that’s why people form subcultures

Influence of Peers
-different kinds of people influence us to different degrees throughout our lives
-the strongest influences on an adolescent’s self-concept are peers
-affect roles we make and take

Role Conflict
-conflict occurs when a person has to satisfy the demands of two or more incompatible or contradictory roles
-playing one role necessarily undermines or prevents playing the other
-e.g. being a good friend vs. being a good student

Role Strain
-role strain occurs when two behaviours associated with the same role are incompatible
-e.g. being a successful student without appearing to be nerdy, uncool, or overcommitted

Dealing with conflict
1.Prioritize social roles
-placing priority on some roles and giving others lesser importance
2.Adopt a master status
-take one role and making it *supreme* over all others
-keeping social groups separate to avoid humiliation
-e.g. keeping parents and friends separate
“For example your friends may say: ‘why does your mother eat so much?'” – Teppy

Another way of dealing with dealing with conflict: secrecy
-George Simmel was the first sociologist to study secrecy
-Our “first world” is the recognized world of socially acceptable activities
-Our “second world” includes (usually) hidden deviant activities others cannot see most of the time (e.g. sexual affairs)
-Secrecy is a normal part of social relations

Primary and Secondary Groups:
-Cooley (1909) Distinguished between two types of groups
-primary groups are characterized by small size and emotional intimacy between members
e.g. family
-secondary groups are medium-to-large in size and may not always command our primary social allegiance
e.g. SOC103 class in con hall
e.g. teams, bands, and gangs.

Considering TBG
-Despite their different purposes, they all have
-leadership (for survival)
-rules/norms (you don’t do this; you do that)
-roles (division of labour)
-TBG differ is some respects: e.g.
-differences in goals and activities
-differences in social legitimacy
-But these differences don’t matter sociologically, given the similarities

All TBG offer people the following:
That’s why people voluntarily join and stay!

The glue: peer pressure
-people want to win (and keep) the esteem of their friends
-they want to obey the rules their friends obey (and break the rules their friends break)
-they are hungry for social acceptance outside their family

The value of organization and leadership
-All group activities benefit from organization and leadership
-problems do not solve themselves
-cooperation is mobilized best with direction
no group exists for more than 5 minutes before they have a sense of predictability and structure

“Whether it’s a team, a band, or a bang… Yeah, a bang would work like that too.” – Teppy
The best organization involves the best division of labour
-splitting up the work into manageable parts
-putting the right people in the right roles
-rewarding good performance

Happens in every kind of group – sociologically important!

Social Networks
-Another social structure of interest to sociologists
-imagine 20 people connectives, directly or indirectly, to one another
-direct connections: links of kinship, friendship, and acquaintance among all 20 people
-within this set of 20 people, there can be 190 difference paired connections (20 choose 2)
**there are some individuals with lots of links – significant to businesspeople!

The value of weak ties
-information, social support, and other valuable resources flow through weakly tied networks
-Mark Granovetter (1974) argues that weakly tied networks may be even more useful than strongly tied network, based on many direct links
-weakly tied networks have a vast outreach
-connect large numbers of people at a few removes
(that’s how people find the best jobs!)
“In fact, it’s [jobs are] never from your best friend!” – Teppy

Strong ties vs. Weak ties
-strong ties have emotional intensity
-therefore, strong ties are needed when important favours are needed
-however, weak ties have the merit of vast outreach
-good when varied information is needed

Weak ties overestimate?
-depends on ethnic groups!
-more recent research says that weak ties and strong ties are nearly equal, and in other respects strong ties are superior

Milgram’s small world study
-1967, psychologist Stanley Milgram sent information packet to randomly selected individuals in Omaha or Wichita
-they included basic information about a target person in Boston
-if the starting person did not personally know the target, he/she was to send the packet to a friend or relative who was more likely to know the target

-he/she was then directed to sign his name on the roster and forward the packet to that person
-Also mailed a postcard to the researchers so that they could track the chains progress toward the target

On average, the average path length of 5.5 or 6.

Take-home message
-the “six degrees phenomenon” depends on a few extraordinary people – “connectors” – with large networks of contacts and friends
-these “connectors” link otherwise unconnected individuals (i.e., the majority)
-as a result, the big world is a set of connected “small worlds”

Network “location” makes a difference
-What you know – ie. what information you get – depends on whether you are in the network’s
-So, people located in different parts of the network will view the world differently

Why is this important?
Most information we receive about the world is *indirect*, not *direct*
Therefore, most learning depends on our social (network) connections:
-number, density, stability

Stars, Brokers, and Small Worlds
-the “small world” property of all social networks:
-people are indirectly tied to everyone else at a few removes
-“Stars” or “connectors” are important

Cliques = self-aware clumps within networks
-a group of tightly interconnected people
-a friendship circle
-members feel positive sentiments for one another

Formal Organizations and Bureaucracies
-Organization: a group of people coordinated by communication and leadership to achieve a common goal
e.g. a basketball team
-Formal Organization: a group of people coordinated by communication and leadership to achieve a common goal USING WRITTEN RULES
e.g. a government
“Bureaucracies are the most powerful institutions in society.” – Teppy

Organizations and Networks
-A formal organization can usefully be viewed as a social network with a small world design, plus different levels of authority (ie. a power backbone)
-like other networks, organizations contain clumps and cliques
You can’t say who the leader is in a network! No hierarchy in network.

Why formal organizations tend to be powerful and long-lasting
-formalized roles and relationship provide a division of labour intended to gain a specific set of objectives
e.g. Catholic church
-usually, has access to more resources and more complex technologies than informal groups or organizations

Any organization you look at: #1 concern is SURVIVAL.
They may have goals, but in the end their #1 goal is survival.

Weber’s idealized bureaucracy:
7 features
1.division of labour
2.hierarchy of positions
3.formal system of rules
4.reliance on written documents
5.separation of person from office
(everybody in the organization relates to the office, not the office holder. e.g. in army, you salute the uniform, not the person.)
6.hiring and promotion based on technical merit
(nothing works this way)
7.protection of careers
(the office holder are hired based on written criteria, so people’s careers are protected so long as they follow what’s written down)

Job satisfaction not guaranteed
bureaucracies are not created to be charming and fun.

Formal organizations are completely scripted social forms
-official rules and impersonality separate personal matters from business matters
-promote efficiency
-written rules allow an organization to deal with problem uniformly; each time they arise, the rules simplify situation with objective, neutral, and predictable solutions

Formal organizations => formality
-the detailed (top-down) command associated with bureaucracy is intended to produce formality, compliance, and discipline
-in-the-field (mission) operation is usually quite different

Problems with the bureaucracy
-sheer size may induce irrationalities
-no one person knows all the rules
-different offices may act independently of each other (coordination)
-rule by offices undermines personal responsibility for decisions the organization takes

Bureaucracies tend to be large, immoral organizations
(successful killing machines)
Bureaucracy has an enormous potential for promoting human progress, but also enslavement, exploitation, and cruelty.

“Bureaucracy is the most powerful force for enslavement ever known to humanity.” – Teppy
“But it’s also a powerful force for good!” – Teppy

Total Institutions as ultimate bureaucracies
-total institutions are extreme examples of bureaucratization
-based on principles of efficiency and procedural rigidity
-negate value of democratic participation
-objectify human beings
-teach inmates how to get around the rules
-make inmates more able to survive INSIDE the institution than OUTSIDE it

Erving Goffman’s Asylums
How do organizations committed to controlling and changing us affect os?

“total institutions”
-all follow similar organizational principles
-exert total control
-authorities watch the inmates 24/7
-TI include mental hospitals, prisons, barracks, etc.


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