Social Interaction in Everyday Life


Social Interaction in Everyday Life

Social interaction is the process by which people act and react in relation to others

In every society, people build their everyday lives using the idea of status , a social position that a person holds

Status is part of our social identity and helps define our relationship to others

An ascribed status is a social position a person receives at birth or takes on involuntarily later in life (examples: being a daughter, a Greek, a teenager)

By contrast, an achieved status refers to a social position a person takes on voluntarily that reflects personal ability and effort (examples: honors student, nurse, thief)

A master status is a status that has special importance for social identity, often shaping a person's entire life

(examples: job, gender, name, being in the Bush family attracts attention)

A second important social structure is role, behaviour expected of someone who holds a particular status

A person holds a status and performs a role (holding the status of student leads you to perform the role of attending classes and completing assignments)

As most mothers (and more and more fathers) can testify, the combination of parenting and working outside the home is physically and emotionally draining. Sociologists thus recognise role conflict as conflict among the roles connected to two or more statuses

The Social Construction of Reality

Reality is not as “fixed” as we may think

The social construction of reality is the process by which people creatively shape reality through social interaction

To become more aware of the world we help create, Harold

Garfinkel (1967) devised ethnomethodology , the study of the way people make sense of their surroundings

Erving Goffman was another sociologist who analysed social interaction, explaining that people live their lives much like actors performing on a stage

If we imagine ourselves as directors observing what goes on in the theater of everyday life, we are doing what Goffman called dramaturgical analysis , the study of social interaction in terms of theatrical performance

A status is like a part in a play, and a role serves as a script, supplying dialogue and action for the characters

Goffman described each individual's performance as the presentation of self , a person's efforts to create specific impressions in the minds of others

Non-verbal communication is communication using body movements, gestures, and facial expressions rather than speech

People use many parts of the body to convey information through body language

Eye contact is another key element of nonverbal communication. We use eye contact to invite social interaction. Hands, too, speak for us. Gestures also supplement spoken words (pointing at someone, shrugging the shoulders)

Gender and Performance

Demeanor is the way we act and carry ourselves; it is a clue to social power

Simply put, powerful people enjoy more freedom in how they act

Because women generally occupy positions of lesser power, demeanor is a gender issue as well

The more power you have, the more space you use

Personal space refers to the surrounding area over which a person makes some claim to privacy

Embarrassment is discomfort following a spoiled performance. Goffman describes embarrassment as “losing face”

Tact is, however, helping someone “save face”

“All the world's a stage

And all the men and women are merely players:

They have their exists and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts” (William

Shakespeare, As You Like It, act 2, scene 7)

Emotions, more commonly called feelings, are an important element of human social life

Emotions are powerful forces that allow us to overcome our self-centeredness and build connections with others

Culture does play an important role in guiding human emotions

Questions: If you are on social media, in what ways do you selectively “present” yourself to others? Have you noticed differences in the way men and women communicate?