Chapter Four Social Interaction in Everyday Life Social Structure: A Guide to Everyday Living Social interaction – the process by which people act and react in relation to others. Status • Status – a social position that an individual occupies. • Every status is part of our social identity. • It defines who and what we are in relation to others. Status A status set – all of the statuses a person holds at a given time. Status Ascribed status – a social position a person receives at birth or assumes involuntarily. Status Achieved status – a social position a person assumes voluntarily that reflects personal ability. A Master Status • Some statuses matter more than others, often shaping a person’s entire life. • A master status – a status that has special importance for social identity. Role • Role – behavior expected of someone who holds a particular status. • Role performance varies according to personality. • Role set – a number of roles attached to a single status. Status & Role • "Role" is what the doctor does (or, at least, is expected to do), while status is what the doctor is. In other words, "status" is the position an actor occupies, while "role" is the expected behavior attached to that position. • People occupy status. People perform roles. Status Set and Role Set Figure 4-1 Role Conflict and Role Strain • Role conflict – conflict between roles corresponding to two or more statuses. • When we experience being pulled in several different directions. Role Conflict and Role Strain Role strain – tension among roles connected to a single status. Performing various roles attached to one status feels like a “balancing act.” Role Exit • Role exit – the process by which people disengage from important roles • “Exes” must rebuild relationships with people who knew them in their earlier life. “Ex-nun” Role Exit No Coined Terms Coined Terms • Ex-doctor • Ex-convict • Ex-baseball player • Ex-president • • • • Retiree Divorcee Widow Alumnus Roles and Values “Petty Neighbors” “The Role of the Neighborhood Association” The Social Construction of Reality • Social construction of reality – the process by which people creatively shape reality through social interaction. • Interaction is a complex negotiation. • “Reality” remains unclear in everyone’s minds The Thomas Theorem The Thomas Theorem – situations that are defined as real as in their consequences. W.I. Thomas The Thomas Theorem •A prisoner attacked people mumbling absent-mindedly to themselves. •To the deranged inmate, these lip movements were curses or insults. •No matter that they weren't; the results were the same. W.I. Thomas Ethnomethodology Harold Garfinkel • Harold Garfinkel states people create reality in everyday encounters. • Ethnomethodology – the study of the way people make sense of their everyday surroundings. • Realities are influenced by culture. Reality Building: Class and Culture Our social background affects what we see. People build reality from the surrounding culture. Dramaturgical Analysis: “The Presentation of Self” • Dramaturgical analysis – the study of social interaction in terms of theatrical performance (“actors on a stage”) Erving Goffman • Each performance involves the presentation of self, one’s efforts to create specific impressions in the minds of others. • aka “impression management” Nonverbal Communication • Nonverbal communication – using body movements, gestures, and facial expressions rather than speech. • This conveys information. Nonverbal Communication Eye contact is used to invite and encourage interaction. Hand gestures may convey an insult. Gestures also supplement spoken words. Nonverbal Communication Words, voice, and facial expressions are often ways to spot people telling lies. Paul Ekman Gender and Performances • Women are socialized to be less assertive than men. • Women tend to be more sensitive to nonverbal communication. Gender and Performances Men typically command more space than women. Women craft their personal performances more carefully than men. Idealization, Embarrassment, and Tact • We construct performances to idealize our intentions (Erving Goffman). • We try to convince others we do not have selfish motives. Idealization, Embarrassment, and Tact Embarrassment – discomfort resulting from a spoiled performance. Embarrassing Performance Idealization, Embarrassment, and Tact “Tact is the ability to describe others as they see themselves.” Abraham Lincoln -a keen sense of what to do or say in order to maintain good relations with others or avoid offense Tact – helping someone “save face.” Interaction in Everyday Life: Emotions Humor Language Interaction in Everyday Life: Emotions Emotions, more commonly called feelings, are an important dimension of everyday life. All human beings experience the same basic emotions and display them to others in the same basic ways. Interaction in Everyday Life: Language Language conveys deep levels of meaning. Language defines men and women differently in several ways: (1) The power function of language. (2) The value function of language. (3) The attention function of language. Interaction in Everyday Life: Humor • Humor is a product of reality construction. • It stems from the contrast between two different realities. Interaction in Everyday Life: Humor Conventional – what people expect in some situation Unconventional – an unexpected violation of cultural patterns One must understand the two realities involved well enough to appreciate their difference. Interaction in Everyday Life: Humor Humor arises from contradiction, ambiguity, and double meanings found in differing definitions of the same situation. The idea of “getting it.” Interaction in Everyday Life: Humor Humor provides a way to express an opinion without being serious. Humor often is a sign of real conflict.