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SOCIOLOGY
Richard T. Schaefer

Social Interaction and Reality

McGraw-Hill

2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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5. Social Interaction and Reality


Social Interaction and Reality Elements of Social Structure Social Structure in Global Perspective Social Policy and Social Structure

McGraw-Hill

2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Social Interaction and Reality


Our response to someone s behavior is based on meaning we attach to his or her actions The ability to define social reality reflects a group s power within society
Members of subordinate groups challenge traditional definitions and begin to perceive and experience reality in a new way
McGraw-Hill
2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Social Interaction and Reality


Figure 5-1. Social Statuses

McGraw-Hill

2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Elements of Social Structure


Statuses
Status: Refers to any of the socially defined positions within a large group or society
A person holds more than one status simultaneously

McGraw-Hill

2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Elements of Social Structure


Statuses
Ascribed and Achieved Status
Ascribed Status: status one is born with Achieved Status: status one earns

Master Status
Status that dominates others and determines person s general position in society Societies deal with inconsistencies by agreeing that certain statuses are more important than others
McGraw-Hill
2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Elements of Social Structure


Social Roles
Sets of expectations for people who occupy a given status
Significant component of social structure

Role Conflict
Occurs when incompatible expectations arise from two or more social positions held by the same person.

McGraw-Hill

2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Elements of Social Structure


Social Roles
Role Strain
Difficulties that arise when the same social position imposes conflicting demands and expectations

Role Exit
Process of disengagement from a role that is central to one s identity to establish a new role

McGraw-Hill

2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Elements of Social Structure


Groups
Any number of people with similar norms, values, and expectations who interact with each other on a regular basis.
McGraw-Hill

Every society composed of many groups in which daily social interaction takes place

2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Elements of Social Structure


Social Networks and Technology
Social network: series of social relationships that links person directly to others, and indirectly links him or her to still more people Networking: involvement in social network; valuable skill when job-hunting
We can now maintain social networks electronically with advances in technology
McGraw-Hill
2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Elements of Social Structure


Social Institutions
Organized patterns of beliefs and behavior centered on basic social needs

McGraw-Hill

2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Elements of Social Structure


Functionalist View
Five major tasks (functional prerequisites) a society or major group must accomplish
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Replacing personnel Teaching new recruits Producing and distributing goods and services Preserving order Providing and maintaining a sense of purpose

McGraw-Hill

2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Elements of Social Structure


Conflict View
Major institutions help maintain privileges of most powerful individuals and groups within society Social institutions have inherently conservative nature Social institutions operate in gendered and racist environments
McGraw-Hill
2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Elements of Social Structure


Interactionist View
Social institutions affect our everyday behavior

Social behavior conditioned by roles and statuses

McGraw-Hill

2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Social Structure in Global Perspective


Durkheim s Mechanical and Organic Solidarity
Mechanical solidarity: refers to collective consciousness that emphasizes group solidarity, implying that all individuals perform the same tasks Organic solidarity: refers to collective consciousness that hinges on need a society s members have for one another
McGraw-Hill
2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Social Structure in Global Perspective


Tnnie s Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft
Gemeinschaft (guh-MINE-shoft): small community in which people have similar backgrounds and life experiences Gesellschaft (guh-ZELL-shoft): large community in which people are strangers and feel little in common with other community residents
McGraw-Hill
2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

Slide 17

Social Structure in Global Perspective


Table 5-1. Comparison of the Gemeinshaft and Gesellschaft

McGraw-Hill

2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Social Structure in Global Perspective


Lenski s Sociocultural Evolution Approach
Views human societies as undergoing change according to a dominant pattern sociocultural evolution
McGraw-Hill

Process of change and development in human societies resulting from growth in their stores of cultural information (Lenski et al. 2004:366)

2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Social Structure in Global Perspective


Lenski s Sociocultural Evolution Approach
Society s level of technology critical to way it is organized
Technology: Cultural information about how to use the material resources of the environment to satisfy human needs and desires (Nolan and Lenski 2004:366)
McGraw-Hill
2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Social Structure in Global Perspective


Lenski s Sociocultural Evolution Approach
Preindustrial Societies
Hunting-and-Gathering Society: people rely on whatever foods and fibers are readily available

Horticultural Societies Agrarian Societies: primarily engaged in production of food


Use technological innovations like the plow for dramatic increases in food production
McGraw-Hill
2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

Slide 21

Social Structure in Global Perspective


Lenski s Sociocultural Evolution Approach
Industrial Societies
Depend on mechanization to produce their goods and services
Rely on inventions and energy sources Change the function of the family as a self-sufficient unit.

McGraw-Hill

2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Social Structure in Global Perspective


Lenski s Sociocultural Evolution Approach
Postindustrial and Postmodern Societies
Postindustrial Society: economic system is engaged primarily in the processing and control of information Postmodern Society: technologically sophisticated society preoccupied with consumer goods and media images

McGraw-Hill

2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

Continued...

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Social Structure in Global Perspective


Table 5-2. Stages of Sociocultural Evolution

McGraw-Hill

2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Social Policy and Social Structure


The AIDS Crisis
The Issue
While there are encouraging new therapies developed to treat AIDS, there is currently no way to eradicate AIDS by medical means. What is the role of social institutions in preventing the spread of AIDS?

McGraw-Hill

2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Social Policy and Social Structure


The AIDS Crisis
The Setting
Estimated 39.4 million people infected with AIDS Not evenly distributed Developing nations of sub-Saharan Africa face greatest challenge

McGraw-Hill

2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Social Policy and Social Structure


The AIDS Crisis
Sociological Insights
AIDS epidemic likely to bring about certain transformations in a society s social structure Functionalist perspective: established social institutions cannot meet a crucial need, new social networks are likely to emerge to fill that function

McGraw-Hill

2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Social Policy and Social Structure


The AIDS Crisis
Sociological Insights
Conflict Perspective: Policymakers slow to respond to the AIDS crisis because those in high-risk groups gays and IV drug users were comparatively powerless. Interactionists: forecast AIDS could lead to more conservative sexual climate

McGraw-Hill

2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Social Policy and Social Structure


The AIDS Crisis
Policy Initiatives AIDS struck all societies
Not all nations can respond in the same manner High cost of drug treatment generated intensive worldwide pressure on major pharmaceutical companies to lower prices

McGraw-Hill

2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Social Policy and Social Structure


Figure 5-2. People Living with HIV/AIDS, 2004

Source: UNAIDS 2004:5

McGraw-Hill

2007 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.