Chapter 3 (L. Xu)

Estimated Reading Time 00:03:36

Notes by Lance Xu

Chapter 3: Social Structures

-Social script: guidelines that people follow to carry out interactions and fulfill role expectations as seamlessly as possible

-people play a variety of roles, they influence our behaviour and define who we are

-the groups we belong to also have large influence (teams, bands, roles within groups)

-people in large organization often feel estranged from their jobs, size and methods of achieving goals are largely impersonal

Classic studies: Outsiders (Howard Becker)

-social groups create deviance by creating rules which constitute deviance and applying them to particular people and labeling them as outsiders

-deviance is a process, once labeled deviant people set themselves apart and develop subgroups with their own language and patterns of behaviour

-ex. Jazz musicians and marijuana users

Identity, Roles and Role Sets

Dramaturgical approach views social life and roles as scripted play

-different clothes and behaviours for different situations, deviation results in embarrassment and confusion

Role: expected behaviour of and individual in a social position and the duties associated with that position

Identity: the ways we view and describe ourselves (female, male, friend, student, etc)

-roles and identities related, roles shape our identities

-community: group of people who interact and communicate often with one another, share common interests, values and goals

-membership in community important to people, conform to rules to stay in community, fear expulsion or exclusion

-social communities are more important than demographic categories

-demographic categories can mobilize into a social community (woman’s/gays rights, black power movements)

-people often frustrated with social rules, however conform due to fear of punishment and/or for opportunities/rewards

Looking-glass self: process in which people come to see and value themselves as others see them

-role embracement: person willingly accepts role

-role distance: person takes on role but keeps separate their behaviour from the identity associated with that role

-role exit: process of leaving a role

-interactionist perspective – roles and identities not inborn, but socially determined

-role set: collection of roles an individual plays

-individuals, not societies control what roles they play

George Herbert Mead- people adopt roles (role taking) based on their motivations, the motivations of others around them and the society as a whole

Role-taking: process in which we take on existing defined roles

Symbol: the thing that stands for or represents something else and proves a means of communication

Role-making (Ralph Turner): process of creating new social roles in a through interaction

-problem with role making: new role may not be accepted by society, it must be widely known and generally accepted

Role conflicts and role strains

Role strains: result of role conflict, where the demands of some roles conflict with the demands of other roles

-prioritizing social role an important way to maintain social order

-compartmentalization: division of activities into categories or sections based on role (act differently around friends than parents)

Secrecy and Secret Societies (George simmel)

-people adhere to society’s rules to avoid exclusion or stigma, however everyone deviates or breaks rules from time to time

-“first world” is recognized world of socially acceptable activies

-“second world” includes hidden/secret deviant activities (sexual affairs, drug addictions etc)

Dryads Triads and small groups

-dryads (2 people/even number groups) agree easily or fall into hard to resolve conflict

-triads (3 people/odd number groups) take longer to agree, do not usually fall into hard to resolve conflicts

-voluntarism: our behaviour a clear reflection of our goals, values and intentions, our identities shape our interactions (sociologists do not agree with this view)

Teams Bands and gangs

-people join because they want to be members, not for pay cheque or credits

-defined membership, clear set of goals and main activities

-defined hierarchies, with leaders who motivate other members

Cliques, networks and small worlds

direct connection –friendship, acquaintance, kinship

-dyadic relationships: people exchange, as long as these relationships satisfy their needs they remain in the relationship (people constantly leaving or joining their social networks)

-cyberspace helping people to set up virtual networks, increasing information flow

-cliques: tightly interconnected people who ignore or exclude outsiders

-purpose is to raise status of clique members at expense of non-members


-knowledge and power control people by creating and enforcing social norms for human behaviour

-‘governmentality’ = regulation of people’s behaviour by themselves, others or the state


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