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


Lecture 3 (C. Morais)

Estimated Reading Time 00:08:00

Notes by Camilla Morais

Soc 103 – Lecture 3

Roles, Networks, and Organizations

Dramaturgical Approach

  • Thinking of social life as a theatrical production
  • Social Scripts: Particular ways in which we are expected to act and expect others to act in particular social settings
  • Every social situation has its own set of expectations
  • Don’t give us the details

Scripts, Roles, and Identities

  • Roles: sets of actions expected of us
  • Scripts: lines or behaviours we are supposed to follow
  • Identities: things that our going on inside our head
    • People have different ways of organizing their identities
    • You can’t really guess what one’s identity is because its so personal
    • People’s identities are a result of the roles they play (not necessarily true at all times)
    • Every approach is metaphorical
  • We don’t have scripts that cover every eventuality – i.e. if while on a date someone spills out their life scars on you
  • Problem: Dramaturgical Approach only explains general situations
  • We know that there are scripts because there are things that happen that aren’t supposed to do and people don’t know what to do (when you hit an unscripted event and its unpleasant)

The Link Between Roles and Identities

  • How to roles become identities (it does not happen from the inside out)
  • One approach: Labeling Theory
  • We learn whether we are socially, sexually attractive, intelligent, stupid etc. by how others react towards you (looking glass self)
  • We infer from what they say, what they do how we should evaluate ourselves

Labeling is a Two-Sided Sword

  • When we get many negative labels we can become incapacitated
  • It can diminish us, or empower
  • At the extreme it can have long term effects on people’s behaviour
  • Primary Deviance: Any kind of behaviour that breaks any rule
  • Secondary Deviance: Behaviour that responds to sanctions that one gets for primary deviance (may include a career in rule-breaking)
  • If someone is labeled in a negative way, this can affect their self concept and can change their group affiliation

How We Position Ourselves in Roles: Embracement Versus Distance

  • Role Embracement: A person willingly accepts both the social role and the identity associated with it (After the age one is obliged to be a student, he continues to pursue that)
  • Role Distance: Sometimes a person takes on the role but signals separation from the values associated with that role (i.e. child distances himself from parents in front of friends)

Roles Become Identities Through Internalization

  • Identities are based on the social roles we place
  • We internalize the role we play o they become central parts of our identity

Learning Roles is a Lifelong Effort

  • One leaves a role and becomes something else (i.e. Student à Full Time Worker à Wife à Mother etc.)
  • Role-taking is a dynamic process
  • We leave and enter roles throughout life
  • Some departures are hard: e.g., the military widow, the closet gay guy
  • Military wives lead very little roles

Role-Making Versus Role-Taking

  • All of us in our lives, in our interactions with one another take scripts but also invent stuff
  • People agree to invent new social roles together
  • i.e. to break rules of dress or behaviour together
    • Subcultures
    • However this agreement does not bind the rest of society
    • To survive, a social script must become widely known and accepted in the population
    • Subcultures are places where people can create new roles that exist outside the mainstream

The Influence of Peers in Taking and Making New Identities

  • Different kind of people influence us to different degrees throughout our lives
  • The strongest influences on an adolescent’s self-concept are peers

Problems in Playing Roles:

(1) Role Conflict

  • Role conflict occur when a person has to satisfy the demands of two or more incompatible or contradictory roles
    • Playing one role necessarily undermines or prevents the other
    • i.e. being a good friend versus being a good student

(2) Role Strain

  • Occurs when two behaviours associated with the same role are incompatible
  • i.e. being a successful student without appearing to be nerdy, uncool, or overcommitted

Dealing With Role Conflict

  • 1. Prioritize Social Roles (placing priority on some roles and less on others)
  • 2. Adopt Master Role (taking one role and making it supreme)
  • 3. Compartmentalization (keeping social groups separate to avoid humiliation)


  • Another way of dealing with conflict
  • George Simmer 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 he time (i.e. sexual affairs)

Primary and Secondary Groups: Where We Play Many of Our Roles

  • Primary Groups are characterized by small size and emotional intimacy between members
    • i.e. family
    • Secondary Groups are medium-to-large in size and may not always command our primary social allegiance

Consider Teams Bands and Gangs

  • Even though they have different social purposes and different kind of membership, the differences don’t matter sociologically given the similarities
  • They all enforce rules that are created and known by its members
    • The all offer energy, excitement, loyalty, community, pleasure, fun, creativity, innovation – which is why people voluntarily join and stay

The “Glue”: Peer Pressure

  • People what to win (and keep) the esteem of their friends
  • Social acceptance

The Value of Organization and Leadership

  • Any team/band/community etc. has some organization
  • i.e. division of labour, roles, expectations etc.
  • Every group has external problems and internal conflicts/differences that occur inevitably when you have a number of people together
  • Leadership is valuable
  • Splitting roles into manageable parts (the right roles)
  • Rewarding good performance

Social Networks

  • Not groups
  • Groups
  • A network is a group of people who are directly or indirectly connected to one another
  • Direct Connections: links f kinship, friendship and acquaintance among all 20 people
    • Within this set of 20 people there can be 190 different paired connections
    • Mathematically expressed as [20(19)]/2 =190]
    • Even in a small number of people there can be a large number of links
    • The complexity grows very rapidly with the size of the network

The Value of Weak Ties

  • Getting a job by having acquaintances
  • Job information moves through weakly tied networks
  • Weakly tied networks have a huge outreach
  • Information moving through weakly tied people has a vast outreach

Strong Ties Versus Weak Ties

  • Strong ties have the merit of emotional intensity
  • Needed when important favours are needed

Weak Ties Over-Estimated?

  • According to recent research weak ties and strong ties are nearly equal in providing career advice
  • In other respects, strong ties are superior

How Closely Are We All Connected to One Another?

  • Stanley Milgram (1967) Small Worlds Study
  • In his study the average link was 5.5-6 (degree of separation)
  • “Six degrees phenomenon”
  • Different people have different numbers of links
  • Density of links
  • Diverse
  • Weakly tied networks
  • Dense networks (hearing the same thing over and over again / trapped in a cycle)
  • Higher social status = more information
    • Information is a resource

Stars, Brokers, and Small Worlds

  • People are indirectly tied to everyone else at a few removes (“six degrees of separation”)
  • Clique=self-aware clumps within networks
  • Typically friends, have a leader, tend to circulate the same information over and over again
  • There are cliques in every  organization

Formal Organizations (Rule-Based Communities) and Bureaucracies

  • Organization: a group of people who are coordinated by communication and leadership to achieve a common goal i.e. a basketball team
  • Formal Organization: Same are the above plus written rules i.e. a government
  • Bureaucracies are the most powerful social units
    • enforcing written rules
    • you can think about it as networks
    • i.e. a set of people who have links to one another
    • A formal organization has a hierarchy of command but you cannot say who is the most powerful in network, no power-structure
  • Formal organizations tend to be powerful and long lasting
  • The Roman Catholic Church (2000 years old)
  • Accumulate resources, create alliances, exercise power
  • In order to preserve the organization – the main priority is survival

Weber’s Ideal-Type bureaucracy: The Most-Developed Formal Organization

  • Max Weber identified seven essential characteristics of bureaucracyHiring and promotion based on technical merit
    • Division of Labour
    • Hierarchy of Positions
    • A formal system of rules
    • A reliance on written documents
    • A separation of the person from the office
      • Everybody in the organization relates to the office not the officeholder
  • The protection of careers
  • His theory of bureaucracy made specific reference to many features of organization but not to be satisfied
  • It’s designed to survive and be predictable

Formal Organizations Are Completely Scripted Social Forms

  • Serve to promote efficiency
  • Very predictable, persistent
  • Formal Organizations = Formality

Problems With Bureaucratic Organization

  • Sheer size of bureaucracies introduces irrationalities
  • No one knows all the rules
  • Rule by offices tends to undermine personal responsibility
    • people don’t take moral responsibility for their decisions
    • Become largely immoral mechanisms
    • The danger is it works well – sometimes, too well
    • Bureaucracy is the most powerful force for enslavement known to humanity
    • But also the most powerful force for good known to humanity: creates job, economic development etc.
    • Total Institutions as Ultimate Bureaucracies
      • based on principles of efficiency and procedural rigidity
      • Negate the value of democratic participation
      • Objectify human beings
      • Teach inmates to get around d the rules
      • Make inmates more able to survive inside the institution rather than outside it

Erving Goffman’ Asylums

  • How do organizations control us and change our identities?
  • Examined mental institutions from the perspective of the patient
  • Total Institutions (TI) exert total control over their inmates
    • Include mental hospitals, prisons, barracks, residential schools, covenants, etc.
    • All interested in changing who you are

Week 2 Lecture Notes – Starting Points Ch. 3

Estimated Reading Time 00:11:28

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 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) 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.

Week 2 – Starting Points Ch. 3

Estimated Reading Time 00:18:37

Starting Points

Social Structures

Previously we discussed non-human factors. Now we’ll discuss social scripts and social forms.

Social scripts – culturally constructed, socially enforced we’re all expected to follow when we interact. Learned through years of observation and practice. e.g. Women act differently from men. Adults act differently from children. If violated may lost respect. Conscious.

Social forms – social arrangements that arise below people’s consciousness. e.g. fashion, tweeting, Facebook posting styles. Can’t be idiosyncratic: unique to one individual. Not socially enforced but appear everywhere and influence our behaviour. Theorized by Georg Simmel. Unconscious.

Almost exclusively on symbolic interactionist point of view.

Even when we’re not getting high, when we see a police officer we cringe. Why? We do this because we follow social scripts – guidelines that people follow to carry out interactions and fulfill role expectations as seamlessly as possible.

Roles and identities shape our behaviour, but so does the groups we belong to. e.g. development of only child vs. child with siblings.
Bureaucracies may alienate people. e.g. U of T ?!?!??!

Classic Studies: Outsiders

Howard Becker from Chicago School of sociology studied classic work Outsiders (1963). Groundwork for labelling theory. Deviance is the result of a group expelling a subgroup (through labelling). e.g. jazz musicians and marijuana users.

People learn deviant behaviour just like they would anything else. But once labelled deviant people set themselves apart and develop distinct patterns of behaviour. e.g. jazz musicians.

Becker’s model for deviance is sequential, because there is learning and group formation. Deviance is a process. Different factors in people’s lives become relevant at different stages. Overtime the deviant gains community identity within a deviant subgroup.

Main argument: who accuses who? Instead of punishing deviant, why do we consider the deviant bad?
Criticism: ignores personal motivation, focuses on effects but not causes. It’s difficult to understand deviance without reference to personal motives, and so many question this approach. But still influential.

Identity, Roles, and Role-Sets

Social scripts associated with dramaturgical approach of symbolism and interactionism.
Erving Goffman in The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959) showed we can understand and think about social life in terms of a theatrical production – with costumes, scripts, audiences, and roles. e.g. The term social role is borrowed from theatre.
(Shakespeare – “All the world’s a stage.”)

But life is not scripted! We have freedom (in a sense). No social script covers any social situation, so we’d always need to improvise. So Goffman’s theatre is a metaphor. Helps explain social structure though. And also makeup and different dress codes.

“Costume malfunction” – if sometimes script isn’t followed or someone’s bad at improvising we feel embarrassed. And we try to get everything back on track.

Social scripts are imperfect as we only have general outlines. We need social skills and insight. Fulfillment of roles promotes effective interaction. Breach of expectations, on the other hand, can get ugly.

Roles we play are related to identity. Dramaturgically, social roles are the source, not the expression, of identities. It goes from outside-in. Symbolic interactionist argue that roles shape identities.

“Category” and “Community” embed roles and identities.

“Community”: group of people who interact and communicate often and share common interests, values, and goals. They identify themselves as members of a community and one another as members. Membership is important. Shame by gossip. Despite individual differences (demographic categories like age, sex, etc.) there’s conformity in a community.

“Category”: people in the same category do not necessarily communicate with one another. People are less likely to identify with the category than a community. So sociologists are less interested in categories until they mobilize and become a community.
So category mobilization is what social movement is about. e.g. Women’s movement, gay rights movement, etc.

Central concern of sociology: what is the connection between roles and identities? Related to: where does social conformity originate? From within? or from without?

The answer is “both”. Sometimes we want to leave/voice disapproval, but we still obey. We come to tolerate, even embrace, social rules.

Labelling theory: we gain knowledge or understanding of who we are by seeing how other people view or treat us. Founded by Charles Horton Cooley (1902), with concept looking-glass self. The way others see you influences how you see yourself. Good theory but limited. We don’t absorb all the outside opinions.

Goffman (1963) notes that roles and identities overlap.

  • Role embracement: willing acceptation of identities associated with role. e.g. pretty much all successful (and happy) people in life.
  • Role distance: accepts role but not identity. e.g. Roy Mustang and Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist – becoming “Millitary’s Dog” in pursuit of their own goals.
  • Role exit: leaving a role. Rejection and loss of activities, rights, responsibilities, and identity. e.g. break up.

Symbolic interactionist perspective: identities are socially determined, based on social roles, unlike “personality”. When you take on a new role it’s common to feel uneasy because you’ve never done it before.

Your roles structure your life. When you become a dad you also take on related roles, such as soccer coach, moral guide, etc. This collection is called role-set. Some roles are clearly defined especially when paired. e.g. parent-child or husband-wife. They are well defined because we know how people are supposed to act.

How do roles change over time? Social roles are not predetermined. Individuals can furthermore choose their own roles.

George Herbert Mead argues that people adopt roles through role-taking. People learn from people around them and from society at large. To enter one role you must enter some other roles beforehand. So people adopt these roles at their own volition. Central to this process is the learning and use of symbols. Especially language.

Ralph Turner (1962) introduced concept of role-making. People invent new roles with cooperation from others. This concept identifies a major flaw in interactionist approach and a major different between interactionism and functionalism.

(Detour into functionalism)

Let me explain: if you and another person makes a role it doesn’t automatically make it valid. People have to accept it. New roles may not have accompanying status (resource for role-play). Status are components in a complex social system. We can’t introduce roles without establishing how they fit in society.

As explained by Ralph Linton, people play roles but occupy statuses. Statuses are characterized by qualities, duties, privileges, responsibilities and rights. Hierarchical in nature.

In a functionalist image of society, order is all-important. Without an orderly hierarchy there is no stability.
Talcott Parsons (1949) views statuses as central to social order. When socialization is incomplete, people neglect their duties and disorder follows. Society resists breakdown by using embarrassment and shame to restore social equilibrium.
We learn how to live in society through socialization.

Role Conflicts and Role Strains

When roles conflict (appropriately termed role conflict) with each other people undergo role strain, reveals itself as stress. (Contrary to the engineering definition σ = Εε). Despite these strains society continues to function well. People find ways of managing stress associated with role strain, through appropriate social mechanisms.

  1. Prioritizing. e.g. dump your girlfriend for school.
  2. Have a master status. The most distinct characteristic. e.g. I’m better than anyone else at coding so an elite hacker is my most important role.
  3. Compartmentalization. Division of activities. Keeping your groups separate. By keeping groups separate it’s easier to keep the roles separate too.
  4. Secrecy, as discussed below.

Classic Studies: The Sociology of Secrecy and of Secret Societies

Everyone feels the need to deviate at times. But how do we do this with impunity? Georg Simmel (1906) is the first to study secrecy. Our “second” (secret) world is constructed from our “first” (real) world.
“First world”: world of socially acceptably behaviours.
“Second world”: world of hidden deviance.

Social life is like a game of hide-and-seek. One person tries to hide something and another tries to find out what’s hidden. Secrecy is functionally necessary, and cities are especially useful.

According to Simmel, lies are dangerous because people base decisions based on assumptions they can’t easily confirm. Sometimes relationships benefit from concealment. But every relationship has its own tolerable limit of deviation and secrecy.

Secret societies then hold a particular importance in religion and politics. A secret society is “an interactional unit characterized in its totality by the fact that reciprocal relations among its members are governed by the protective functions of secrecy”. So, in English, their member’s actions and relationships are protected by secrecy.

Two components to this definition. 1. members of a group want to protect ideas, activities, etc. 2. They defend these ideas by controlling information.

Through social scripts we gain understanding of what society requires. But social forms are more remarkable and less obvious.

Dyads, Triads, and Small Groups

Social forms does not direct our behaviour but are descriptions. They emerge without people’s intention or awareness. In 1908 essay by Georg Simmel he divided sociology into form (mode of interaction) and content (motive, purpose of an action).

e.g. Two people discussing about movie vs. three people discussing about movie. Content is same but form is different. Dyads act differently than triads.

Binary groups either agree easily or fall into hard-to-resolve conflict. Odd-numbered groups takes a longer time but usually able to eventually resolve conflict. May have peacemaker, etc. unavailable to a dyad.
(O_O Parity matters? Statistically as n approaches infinity the behaviour of odd-numbered and even-numbered groups should become indistinguishable! I guess he’s only talking about small groups)

The idea of social forms opposes voluntarist position. Voluntarism, socio-psychological, argues that our social behaviour is a clear reflection of our goals, etc. But sociologists believe that we often do what we do to gain social acceptance. We try to fit into the social form confronting us and tailor our actions.

Robert Bales (functionalist) did a study at Harvard. By creepily watching people doing teamwork in a one-way mirror, he observed three social forms: the task leader, the emotional leader (often the peacemaker), and the joker.

In order for groups to survive some of their members need to perform special roles. In every group people step forward to fill these roles, or break up. — a small scale functionalist model as put forth by Parsons and Robert Bales.

There are many overlaps between functionalism and interactionism. But at their extremes they lead to different directions.
Symbolic Interactionism: we are always creating and invigorating “the social structure” which would not survive without our intentional cooperative efforts.
(So like, you need to continuously supply electricity to keep a machine going.)
Functionalism: “social systems” persist outside the efforts and intentions of individuals. They force us to conform whether we are willing or not.
(More like osmosis.)
So functionalists far more easily explain social forms.

Teams, Bands, and Gangs (TBGs)

TBGs operate similarly despite very different goals and activities. People join them because they want to be members, not as means for another end. People are not born into it.

TBGs have distinct membership, goals, and activities. They have hierarchies with leaders to set goals, mobilize and motivate. There are clear differences between individual T/B/G though.
All TBGs must address issues of leadership, recruitment, communication, and control. Must master “teamwork”.

Cliques, Networks, and Small Worlds

The social network is different. e.g. 20 people connected to each other. If n = 20 there can be 190 paired different direct connections according to [n(n-1)/2]. Grows quadratically.

Indirect connections are interesting too. Mark Granovetter (1974) argues that weakly tied networks are more useful than strongly tied networks.

Reason is mathematically shown by Anatol Rapoport (1953). Information that only passes through strong links will cycle repeatedly. But information that passes through weak links spread much more quickly.

But then a network is only as strong as its connections, or dyadic relationships (i.e. the edges that connect nodes). Stable dyadic relationships are based on social exchange. So people enter and leave a network.

Nodes can be people but also gouts, institutions, cities, countries, etc. In cyberspace people are setting up virtual networks as well as real ones (in the real world).

Social networking: “small world” property. Aka “six degrees of separation”. But some are sociometric stars. (I think I read this in a Malcolm Gladwell book). These stars can serve as leaders to bring people together. So leadership is integrating people from top down, which is far easier than bottom up.

Integrative role of leaders is important because many of us belong to cliques, groups characterized by friendship, similarity, interaction, exclusion, and the flow of resources. No practical goals but raises status of clique members. Also hierarchical with a leader.

Cohesion of cliques is based as much on exclusion as on inclusion.

Time for generalization!

Michael Foucault
Focused on “the critical history of the present” and then adopted a “genealogical” approach. Claims that knowledge and power control people by creating and enforcing social norms for human behaviour. Foucault maintains that these norms are not derived from evidence or rational argument but are produced by historical circumstance.
Publishes Discipline and Punish: The Origin of the Prison. Examines how power-knowledge relationship uses coercion and surveillance to exert direct, physical control in enforcing standards of behaviour. Similar to schools!!! D:
Also has works on sexuality regarding “bio-power” that influences through policies of reproduction, health, and mortality.

To understand Foucault: our social forms and social scripts are historically specific, arbitrary, but compelling. All of these are part of our notions of “normality” and thus control us. No source of surveillance or of social rules is as powerful as the state. So social order is fundamentally a structure of power relations.

Notion of “governmentality”: regulation of people’s behaviour (self-regulated and state-regulated). Lemke said that in governmentality autonomous individuals as well as the sovereign determine each other’s emergence. So in a sense the growth of individualism is part of the same process that produces large inhuman institutions.

By what means is governmentality achieved? Why? How do individuals make space for themselves then? How do states preserve control when surveillance is imperfect?

Debrix and Barder (2009) say that decentralization of far and power in modern society encourage the use of danger, threat, insecurity, or hostility to control behaviour. Referred to as “mobilization of fear”, involves use of terrifying mechanisms.

Fear of aging: Castle (2009) notes that professional power in gerontology makes seniors dependent on the governing system through assessment and surveillance. McDaniel says that many of those who care for the elderly are themselves disadvantaged: women of a visible minority.

Svihula says that through Foucault’s analysis we can identify relations of power and state governmentality at local level within gerontology. But “power at the macro level” (i.e. the “market ethos”) needs to be examined.

Foucauldian notions applied on plastic surgery: “normality” is relevant. Heyes (2009) says that surgeons exercise discipline to attempt to draw a line between normal and abnormal needs. This distinction legitimizes plastic surgery. But ultimately Heyes argues that these surgeons merely ensure profitability of their practice by claiming that negative results must be caused by a patient’s disorder.

Evans and Colls (2009) applies Foucault analysis to obesity. Used Foucault’s notions of bio-power and governmentality that BMI measurement does not take into account the whole body and experiences of the people being measured. These measurements provides a way of drawing lines between “normal” and “abnormal”, for control.

Hay (2009) says that employee conversations with managers focused around employee development. Such conversations aim to adjust personal competences to corporate visions, missions, and goals. Foucaultian view: these conversations are hidden technologies of power.

Foucault’s “technologies of the self” includes:

  • self-examination
  • identification of inner impurities
  • disclosure of the self
  • renunciation of the self

In framework of freedom and choice (modern rationale of control), technologies of the self with formal relations of domination form a specific type of governmentally. e.g. employee is transformed in an endless striving for perfection as an employee. So people are implication in their own self-criticism and institutional subjection.
(Personal comment: there’s nothing wrong with striving for perfection. It’s an age-old human pursuit. And it’s noble.)

“Neo-liberalism”: political philosophy that, under guise of liberation, undermines collective efforts to redistribute wealth and power. Lazzarato (2009) draws on Foucault and argues that by emphasizing the important of the individual and market competition, Foucault’s ideology transformed society into an ever less equal “enterprise society”. The emphasis on individuals is to create social insecurity and to weaken the role of the state, to depoliticize social issues. Undermines planning and redistribution of welfare.
(Basically he’s saying that Foucault’s ideology implies that inequality is inherent and inevitable, and as a Marxist he isn’t happy about that.)

So then from this point of view, neo-liberalism means the restoration of capitalist power over redistribution of wealth. Complete antithesis of a Marxist stance.

Blain (2009) looks at American “war on terrorism” through Foucault’s viewpoint. Origins of the notion “terrorism” from English response to French Revolution. Thereafter government labelled some activism as illegitimate and some as legitimate. So it’s the government’s perception of the act is evil.
(Evil is in the eye of the beholder.)

So Foucault is really controversial and there’s still a lot of heated debate. But the general idea is that Foucault has helped us understand the nature of power in present-day societies, and that such power is often exercised without our awareness by obliging us to conform to “normality”. These notions are nested in social scripts we perform and the social forms we inhabit. So the powerful use modern methods and institutions to control the rest of us.

New Insights

Sociological Notions of Community.

Adler and Adler (2008) look at people who injure themselves. Sociologically, is self-injury a social, communal activity? Many self-injurers who feel lonely and isolated from society were able to form online communities. This research is social constructionist and shed new light on the creation of virtual communities made possible by technology. Deviant group can avoid isolation, stigma, and exclusion.

Communities can take various forms. Purcell (2009) criticized Old Left theories of protest. Not every social movement needs to be based on classes, or be organized the same way. Present day political movements are different in form by similar in intent. Formation of “networks of equivalence”.

Misuse of Terminology
There are political ramifications by using the term community. Merrill Singer (2006) says that it’s difficult to assess drug addicts as a community. The use of word “community” in drug addition literature may influence policy makers. Community is hard to define to suit various contexts.
(Moral: choose your words carefully)

Consumerism as a religion
Antonowiez and Wrzesinski (2009) relate Thomas Lukmann’s notion of invisible religion to sports fans’ devotion to their teams as a form of community. This requires participation and faith, just like traditional religions, but is more complex because of commercialization. Does this represent a true community? Or a true religion (it’s a clothing brand name!)?

Transcendence in Markets
Thompson and Coskuner-Balli (2007) examine community supported agriculture (CSA). Consumers agree to buy “shares” in local farms and are supplied with local produces. People usually do this out of ideological stance or idealized romanticism. Thompson and Coskuner-Balli remind us that in a “disenchanted” modern age (when, as Nietzsche puts it, God is dead), people continue to look for transcendence. Even in a market-driven world.

A World of Dreamers
Rabot (2007) says that even shared fantasies have social value. What others see as alienation Rabot sees as “vector of socialities”. It is through broadcasting of images that human communion is created and heightened. So in the images around us we see the signs of a committed tribal membership in an otherwise fragmented, disenchanted, and rootless society. We need technology to “re-mythologize” our lives.

Postmodern Angst
Conroy (2007) says that anxiety has social value. Conroy shows how postmodern understandings of uncertainty are linked to social causes of anxiety. (Existential angst.) Globalization fuels anxieties and attachment disorders. e.g. chronic job insecurity from exporting good jobs overseas. So we can see anxiety as normal and basis for generational unity.

(I don’t understand. How does describing why anxiety occur make it normal and basis for unity?)

Resurgence of tribalism
Yeygel (2006) says postmodernism causes social class to lose its importance for people. Postmodern concepts are more tribal. e.g. Modern marketing is built on mass culture. Postmodern marketing is built on one-to-one communication with consumers.

The Marxists Strike Back
Rehmann (2007) claims: 1) postmodernism “de-materializes social relations”, focusing mainly on signs and symbols. 2) Postmodernism doesn’t try hard enough to examine contradictions and antagonisms in our social relations.
So Rehmann says that Marxists must continue to critique neo-liberalism and dominant (capitalist) ideology. Consumerism is exploitive. But Marxists should interpret postmodernism in a historical materialistic framework. It has to reinsert labouring bodies into the analysis of capitalism.

Still Not Good Enough
Salerno (2006) says “American ambivalence” towards community (social engagement vs. individual hedonism) reflects alienation. Utopia vs. social paranoia have led to gated communities and barred windows (I guess that’s why they call it window pain). Sense of community is unattainable in capitalistic communities where market forces alienate.

You Ain’t Got Nuthin’
Modern neighbourhoods are less communities than commodities. They are owned by financial institutions, but residents (à la subprime crisis). People have about as much real connection with their community as they do with their local Walmart; their community becomes something they use that belongs to someone else. The locus of control and planning lies elsewhere. Result of alienation: superficiality of place.
(Fun fact: in China you may buy a property, but you are not allowed to own land. All land is owned by the “Dictatorship of the Proletariat”. Isn’t it kind of the same idea here? Is the author trying to establish a contrast between capitalism and idealized communism? Practically, “Chinese” communism and capitalism may not be all that different.)

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