Social Structure and society

Chapter 5
What is social structure?
Social Structure:
the underlying patterns of relationships in a group
What do sociologists mean by status?
Status: a position a person occupies within a social structure
What is an ascribed status?
ascribed status: a position that is neither earned nor chosen but assigned
How is status achieved?
achieved status: a position that is earned or chosen
What is a status set?
status set: all of the statuses that a person occupies at any
particular time
Are all of a person’s statuses equal?
master status: a position that strongly affects most other
aspects of a person’s life
“ It is never too late to be what you
might have been.”
George Eliot
Statuses are like parts in a play
Roles are the way we play out our parts
…roles are like statuses in action
Stanford Prison Experiment
Rights and Obligations
Rights: behaviors that individuals can expect from others
Obligations: behaviors that individuals are expected to
perform toward others
Role performance and social interaction
Roles are “statuses” in
role performance: the actual behavior of an individual in a role
Role performance and social interaction
…if statuses are like parts in a play,
and roles are like the script…
then social interaction represents the
way actors respond to cues given by
other actors
social interaction: the process of influencing each other as people relate
The Stanford Prison Experiment
Mr. Jones is a member of a high school board and his daughter is
a junior at the same high school. The board recently considered
a proposal to drastically cut spending in the art department. Mr. Jones
daughter is an aspiring artist with dreams of opening her own studio
someday. What should Mr. Jones do?
Dave is the manager of a team of computer engineers.
Dave’s good friend Ted is assigned to Dave’s team. Dave has
to play the roles of both supervisor and friend. Ted has to play
the roles of both employee and friend. Each role contains a
variety of expectations. As a friend, Dave is expected to
support Ted (and vice versa) when difficulties arise. But as a
supervisor Dave is expected to treat employees without
partiality. What is Dave to do if Ted messes up on the job? How
is Ted to react if Dave has to discipline him?
Role Conflict
role conflict:
when the performance of a role in one status interferes with
the performance of a role in another status
Role Strain
role strain: when the roles of a single status are inconsistent or conflicting
Type of Society
Use of Tools
Importance of
Leisure Time
Types of Societies
Hunting and Gathering
• a society that survives by hunting animals and gathering edible plants
• nomadic, few material goods
• economics based on cooperation (members share possessions)
• with few possessions there is no social class (no rich or poor)
a society that survives primarily through the growing of plants
led to more permanent settlements
permitted the growth of community-based societies
stability and growth
Types of Societies
a society in which food is obtained primarily by raising and taking care of animals
cattle goats, sheep, etc. (meat and milk)
since grain is needed to feed animals, farming emerges
still some migration, but more long-term communities
surplus of food allows division of labor (pottery makers, tool makers, etc.)
surplus allows development of social inequity (class system)
a society that uses plows and draft animals in growing food
plow allowed for more productivity (more food)
more area can be cultivated by fewer people
people free to engage in other things (education, music, politics, etc.)
cities are built and occupations not related to farming emerge
wealth and power, increasing class system
Industrial Societies
industrial society: a society that depends on science and technology to
produce its basic goods and services
What happens when agricultural societies
become industrial societies?
mechanization: replacing animal and human power with machine power
What happens when agricultural societies
become industrial societies?
urbanization: the shifting of population from farms and villages to large cities
What did Ferdinand Tonnies have to say?
Gemeinschaft (ga MINE shoft) : German for “community.” Preindustrial
society based on tradition, kinship, and close social ties.
Gesellschaft (ga ZELL shoft): German for “society.” industrial society
characterized by weak family ties, competition, and impersonal social
What were Durkheim’s views?
social solidarity:
the degree to which a society is unified
mechanical solidarity:
a type of social unity achieved by people
doing the same type of work and holding
similar values
organic solidarity:
a type of social unity in which members’
interdependence is based on specialized
functions and statuses
Postindustrial Society
postindustrial society: a society in which the economic emphasis is on
providing services and information
Five major features of postindustrial societies
According to David Bell:
1. For the first time, the majority of the labor force is employed in services
rather than in agriculture or manufacturing
2. White collar employment replaces much blue collar work.
3. Technical knowledge is the key organizing feature of postindustrial
4. Technological change is planned and assessed.
5. Reliance on computer modeling in all areas.