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Chapter 5 Social Structure and Social Interaction Read the entire chapter EXCEPT SECTIONS 5 2 and 5 3 The Two Levels of Sociological Analysis macrosociology social structure microsociology social interaction Sociologists look at society from both a macro and a micro perspective Macroanalysis is a sociological approach that takes the broadest view of society by Social life is composed of many levels of building blocks from the very micro to the very macro These building blocks combine to form the social structure Macrosociological Components of Social Structure Social Institutions A social institution is an established and organized system of social behavior with a recognized purpose Functionalists emphasize the positive aspects of social institutions and argue that social institutions exist because they meet universal needs The purpose of social institutions is to provide society with its functional requisites the major tasks that a society must fulfill if it is to survive Total institutions are an extreme example 2 Social Structures Social structures are the organized patterns of social relationships and social institutions that together comprise society Different social classes racial ethnic groups and women have different access to opportunities Recall Durkheim s concept of social facts All of the components of social structure work together to maintain social order by limiting guiding and organizing human behavior Social Interaction and Society 3 Groups To sociologists a group is a collection of individuals who interact and communicate with each other share goals and norms have a subjective awareness of themselves as a distinct social unit Statuses are socially defined not individually defined Statuses define who and what we are in relation to others Differs from the concept of identity Status is an established position in a social structure that carries a degree of social rank or value Social status achieved status ascribed status master status Roles Role expected behavior associated with a particular status The difference between a role and a status is that a person status such as being a male but plays occupies such as acting tough a role a One individual occupies several statuses at the same time status set For each status there are a number of roles role set Role conflict When two or more roles impose conflicting expectations Role strain is conflicting expectations within a single role 4 In conclusion to Part One of this chapter suffice it to say that social structure sets the context for what individuals do feel and think For most 5 people social structure is largely a constraining force that shapes and molds their everyday life mostly unconsciously Part II Microsociological Components of Social Structure Social Interaction in Everyday Life Symbolic interactionists examine small scale face to face social interactions from a microsociological perspective Theories about Analyzing Social Interaction Sociologists use different theories of human interactions and relationships o the social construction of reality o ethnomethodology o impression management dramaturgy o social exchange theory The social construction of reality our perception of what is real is determined by the subjective meaning we assign to an experience This is the principle described by W I Thomas of the social construction of reality the idea that our perception of what is real is determined by the subjective meaning that we attribute to an experience Ethnomethodology studying norms by violating them to reveal people s standards See how people react to disruption and what they do to restore the normative order Demonstrates how easily these forces can be challenged and how fragile they are 6 7

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UB SOC 101 - The Two Levels of Sociological Analysis

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