Sociology notes: chapter 3 -time is useful because it contributes to a sense of structure as we participate in social life. -social structure organizes social life around relationships that connect people to one another and to systems as well as connecting entire systems to one another. -the usual feeling of being ?lost? occurs because we?ve changed our structural position in relation to one or more social systems and changed our connection to all the patterns of social life that go with that position. -there are two definite meanings of social structure: 1) its about how social relationships are organized at all levels of social life. It can also connect whole systems to other systems. 2) its about the various kinds of distributions ( ex: how people are distinguished among the various positions found in a system) in social systems. -a status is a position in a system?s structure, and we participate in a system by occupying one or more statuses. It can also be referred( by max weber) as the amount of prestige that a person has in social systems. -statuses exist independently of being occupied by particular people at any given time. -Many people might suggest that if we want to know how people will behave, we?re in many ways better off knowing the statuses they occupy than their personal characteristics and intentions. -the status that we occupy is connected to a vast network of statuses both within and outside the government, and it is those relationships that limit what presidents or even military leaders can accomplish since for every move they make produces a complex range of consequences that shape an limit the options from which they choose. So statutes both empower and contains. -some statuses can?t be occupied all the time because they exist only in a particular situation. - a role is a collection of beliefs, values, attitudes and norms that apply to whoever occupies a particular status in relation to whoever occupies another status in the system. So the status might remain constant, but the content of the role varies from one relationship to another. -roles lay out paths of least resistance that make certain alternative paths to be impossible. -from a structural perspective, sexual relationships between role conflicting entities such as teachers and students cannot be equal because the roles that define their positions in the system are inherently unequal and cannot be made equal. -a role is just a collection of ideas, and there?s no way to know exactly how people will behave in relation to them. -even if every family were unique, this wouldn?t tell us much about the patterns that shape families, and our lives in them, in such recognizable ways. Nor can family ?uniqueness? explain patters we find among families such as the effects of poverty. Even the most personal emotional problems are increasingly tied to how families work as systems. -the simple fact that men account for most of family violence and sexual exploitation, is itself a structural fact of enormous significance. Indeed, men have social statutes such as ?father and husband? that may compel them to have an abusive behavior due to the family system that they are in. they tend to be extremely violent and abusive toward women that are very dependent and can take care of the kids on her own. -indeed, men tend to be violent and abusive in order to test their man hood. This doesn?t mean everything is society?s fault and we shouldn?t hold individuals accountable when they?re abusive. But it does mean that if we want to change pervasive social patterns of abusive behaviors, we have to see how those patterns are connected to paths of least resistance and how people choose whether to follow them. -as researcher Merton points out, capitalist industrial societies place a high value on accumulating possessions. No matter what social class we are plunged into, it?s impossible to escape the steady stream of advertising and its underlying message that getting what you don?t have is the answer to just about everything. -although everyone is exposed to the cultural value placed on possessions, the distribution of legitimate opportunities to acquire them is highly unequal. Sometimes we are able to have them through legitimate means such as acquiring a job. Others might just simply rebel against this unequal system. Others might reject the idea that property is important for us. -the larger the gap is between the distribution of what people are encouraged to want and the distribution of legitimate opportunities for achieving it, the more likely deviance is to occur, whether as innovation or dropping out. High crime rates occur because people don?t have what others around them have and what their culture say they should have. -so, researchers have proven that communities with high levels of poverty where everyone?s in pretty much the same boat will have less crime than communities where people are generally better off but some are much better off than others. -the distribution of values and the distribution of opportunities are characteristics of systems, not of the individuals who participate in them. For example, this can be seen in some schooling systems where competitive systems with paths of resistance might arise since good grades are extremely rare to have. So as a result, many students cheat or sabotage other students in order to be able to get the good grades. Indeed, we can be sure that cheating will occur as a behavior because the systems load the odds in that direction. -sociological practices isn?t about predicting individual behavior; it is about understanding how social circumstances shape patterns of behavior in one way to another and the consequences that result. -what alarms us is that on some level we know problems such as poverty and violence are rooted in systems we all participate in. as such, those problems involve all of us all the time. -in a sense, statuses are inherently relational in that they don?t even exist except in relation to other statuses. For example mother is also a daughter. -structure also refers to various kinds of distributions in systems. Whatever the resources and rewards are in a particular system, the basic structural question remain of how unequal the distribution is, how that is accomplished, how the pattern of inequality is justified and maintained, and how all of this affects people and the system. -both within and among societies today, patters of social inequality are major features of how social systems work, whether based on class, gender, race, disability status, ethnicity, age, or sexual orientation. Weber defined power as the ability to control events, resources, and people in spite of opposition by the use of for ex control and coercion. Also power may also form a sense of belonging and meaning of life into some groups such as in religious groups. -in a patriarchal world, however, the human capacity to control has been elevated to such a lofty position that ?power? and ?powerful? invariably look more like weber?s meaning that its alternatives. -shifting production from home to factory affected the role of mother s and fathers since mothers were forced to stay home and take care of kids. As a result, husbands became the number one source of income for the family; and therefore the patriarchic family culture increased dramatically. -also, the shift between home and factory work has also transformed the productive role children were before. Children now started to reject stream cultural values. So in some way the industrial capitalist system has undermined the positions of women and children. Also, as a result of the industrial capitalist revolution, owning land and dominating the family no longer amounted to much as a basis for men?s patriarchal authority. The position of individual men within the world, based on male-identity and mal- domination, shifted dramatically. Most men no longer had any authority over production. This shift meant that men had to find other ways to secure male privilege. - a capitalist economy based on wages allowed people to survive as individuals by earning money outside the family. This broke the powerful economic interdependency that had previously bound women, men, and children together in a productive family system. -today, the percentage of people who live alone and the percentages of men and women in their late twenties who?ve never married are increasing steadily on top of rapid increases during the precedent decades. -we can think of racial prejudice, as a cultural attitude that combines stereotyped beliefs about different races and values that rank some as superior over others. Prejudice wouldn?t be so much of a problem if it weren?t connected to structural aspects of societies, especially role structures, who gets to do what, and the distribution of power, prestige, and other resources and rewards. So racism is an integral part of the structure of entire social systems that privilege and empower some groups at the expense of others. -if blacks weren?t concentrated in the lower and working classes for example, they?d give middle-class whites much more competition over jobs. Of course, the white-dominated capitalist enterprise wouldn?t want that to happen. This indeed makes it easier to focus on cultural prejudice as the sole problem rather than on the structures of race privilege and capitalist economics that prejudice supports. -stereotyped beliefs around race, for example, are organized around real or imagined differences that are distorted and exaggerated to benefit one race at the expense of others. -racial isolation makes it easy to perpetuate stereotypes because people never have to test them against reality. However, integration lessens racial stereotyping and increases cross-race friendship. -structural shits can also stimulate cultural change; for example with the increasing divorce rate which make ?divorce? a common norm now a days. -sometimes, different aspects social systems can reinforce one another and also may contradict one another and therefore produce strain that changes paths of least resistance. For example heterotism still exists because it conform to cultural ideas such as superiority of men. However it also violates other cultural values such as fairness and tolerance. -capitalists are encouraged to keep as much for themselves as they can , since this is how they increase their wealth. But if capitalists keep too much, workers won?t have enough money to buy the goods they produce, which defeats the very purpose of the economic system and precipitates a crisis. -if efficiency improves, this means that workers are producing more each hour but without being paid proportionately more as a result. -from Marx?s perspective, the only remedy for structural contradiction is to change the structure of capitalism itself, the relationships between workers, owners, and the means of production. However, the contradictions are never resolved and the system is kept stable by other means, especially through the power of the state. However the state tries to soften the disadvantages of the workers by offering services such as welfare and unemployment benefits. -some say that if workers kept more of the value that they produced, then there would be no need for welfare and other compensations. Also, if the idea of profit didn?t encourage employers to cut costs, there would be less need for federal regulations to require businesses to spend money to ensure a safe environment for workers. Indeed this kind of counterbalancing of one part of the system by another can stabilize and perpetuate systems at all levels of social life. -cultural strain in one part of the system is connected to changes in another. -the stress that so many families experience isn?t simply about the family, but also about the structured relations that connect the family to other systems such as the capitalist world ( for example: daddy may have lost his job and therefore becomes very violent with mommy and the children). -not only do individuals always participate in systems, but those systems also exist in relation to something larger than themselves. To do this kind of work, it?s important to think across the different levels on which social life happens, to see how groups are connected to organizations and communities, how organizations and communities are connected to societies, how societies are connected to one another, and how individuals participate in it all. Sociology notes: chapter 5 -the self is an idea we have about our own existence. But it?s a powerful idea because we don?t live it as such: we act as though the self is as real as anyting we can see and touch. -part of what makes the idea of the self so powerful is that it locates us in relation to other people and social systems. The only reason to have a name Is to be able to participate in social life, and this is also why we develop ideas about the self in general and about ourselves in particular. -Mead argues that we learn ot think about ourselves as selves by discovering the inner lives of toher people. This happens primarily when people use language to talk about themselves, about us, and everything else they experience as reality since we can put ourselves into the situation that that experience took place. -it?s through language that we discover the human possibility of a self by discoverin what other people have done with htat possibility. We become aware of our point of view as a point of view rather as simply ?the way things are?. -we can say and do things to affect how other people perceive us and how they treat us as a result. So the self exits only in relation to other selves. However, wether or not ?believing or stop believing in ourselves? turns into a crisis depends on the culture we live in. -to participate as selves in social systems, we have to locate ourselves in relation to systems, to see how and where we connect to tehm and how this reflects back a sense of who we are. As we grow up, we accumulate a social identity by occupying one status after another and using them to locate ourselves in relation to social systems and other people. -as Erving Goffman points out, when we occupy a status, the role that goes with it provides us with ready-made ?self? that we can adopt as a parth of least resistance toward acceptance by others. What we know consists primarily of cultural images of the ?typical? person who occupies this or that status. **-we are who people think we are, a reality of us they construct from cultural ideas before they ever know anything about us based on direct experience. Indeed, what they actually know are paths of least resistance that go with statuses we occupy and the likelihood that we usually follow those paths. We may choose differently, but they can?t know that unless they see how we actually participate in social life. -the ?looking-glass self? phenomena is when a person uses another person?s judgement as a mirror, and the reflection consists of what the individual think the other individual thinks of him (which may or may not turn out to match what he actually sees the initial guy). -as we grow, we get to be exposed to a more complex process of socialization where we begin to graps what?s called the ?generalized other?. The generalized other isn?t a specific person or even a group of people. It?s our prospective of how people in general view a social situation and the people who occupy different statuses within it. -the generalized other is a purely abstact collection of ideas about status occupants. These ideas are mostlry culturally based, which encourages us to assume we share their meaning with other people. Based on this, we also assume people will perceive, interpret, and evaluate us in certain ways when they know which statuses we occupy in a situation. -people think they know wchih status we occupy simply by looking at us, and as a result, easily associate us with ideas about who we are, what we can and can?t do, what we?re worth, and what our rights are in relation to them. -statuses and roles connect us to the social world and overlap our lives with other people?s lives. They locate, identify, and anchor us in social space. Without them, we don?t exist in a social sense, and without that, there isn?t much left of what we know and experience as a self or a life. -we (and our worth) exist in relation to something larger, (mostly the culture that we admire or we tend to reject) that we aren?t the beginning and the end of things. -whenever we construct our sense of social life and ourselves, there is mystery piled upon mystery beneath it. -everything we do is a behavior, but only some behavior takes the form of an action. So behavior based on meaning is action, and actions are the building blocks of our participation in social systems and social life as we interact with others. -on the level of individuals, social interactions is the process through which systems happen, but it?s also how we happen as social beings. -we use a variety of techniques to have our performances seen as authentic, as worthy of whatever role we?re playing, as convincing enough for us to be accepted in that situation for who it is we claim to be. Like actors, we create impressions of who we are, what Goffman called ? the presentation of self?. -?the presentation of self? can be described as being the likelihood for people to represent the best or worst of who they are toward others in the same or different social system. As in a play, both actors and audience in social life want everything to go as it?s supposed to, because if it doesn?t it may compromise our own ability to play our roles efficiently. So both parts have their own impressions to manage. -the very idea of a ?role? can seem to preclude the possibility of being authentic, as if creating impressions and trying to turn in an acceptable performance invariably mean faking it and wearing masks that conceal our ?real? selves. -Goffman argues that we are always being ourselves even though we may not feel comfortable owing up to the results and allowing them to shape how other people see us. Whatever the performance turns out to be, it comes from somewhere in me, and if there is an unreality in it, it?s in my not being aware of that simple fact and denying my connection to the consequences my behavior produces. -the problem isn?t that we have so many roles to perform that can make us appear inconsistent or other than we?d like. The problem is that we don?t integrate them with an ongoing awareness of the incredible complexity of ourselves and the social life we participate in. -culture exists through us as we exist through it. It is among and of us. When we partici[ate in it, it provides us a way to participate in other people?s lives. We aren?t autonomous and independent in relation to systems, but we also aren?t puppets on a string. We?re somewhere in between in a far more creative place. -social interaction is interplay between us and systems that works through both action and appearance. Every social situation is defined by a reality that exists only as people actively shape and support it. We continuously use our knowledge of how reality is constructed to figure out from one moment to the next what?s going on and how to do our part to keep it going. Rituals such as ?goodnight wishes? are like many interaction rituals: we don?t even knw they?re there until someone deviates from them, and we notice the hole in the social fabric that marks where they?re supposed to be. -the problem with Tannen?s approach ( which is that men tend to talk more aggressively and women tend to talk more calmly due to the fact that during their childhood, they played socialized different with their same-sex peers), is that she never links such differences ot the larger social context that encourages them. Also Tannen doesn?t ask what kind of society would have paths of least resistance that lead men to seek status and women to attend more to personal relationships. -when women and men interact along their paths of least resistancem, they do more than talk differently. They also play a part in making a particular kind of society happen from one moment to the next. For example, when men in the corporate world use strong languages, they may apologize to the women that are around them. By doing so, men draw attention to the exceptional nature of women?s presence and identify women as outsiders who interfere with what would otherwise be regarded as the normal flow of conversation. -another example may be the fact that sicne heterosexuals have much greater freedom to talk about their personal lvies, such talks becomes a form of privilege because it is denied to others. Heterosexuals are rearely aware of this , which is also part of their privilege. -the countless ways that such systems limit and damage people?s lives don?t usually take the form of overt and deliberate harm. Instead they happen through a particular choice of words, a tone of voice, or even a seemingly innocent question. Such patterns make it difficult for members of dominant, privilege groups to appreciate that their privilege even exists, not to mention what a cost their privilege exacts from others. And those patterns also make it difficult for member of subordinate groups to endure those hard insults that unfortunately accumulate into the kind of burden that gives ?oppression? its name. -it is ultimately what connects us to a social realtiy larger than ourselves and our own experience, a reality shaped through our participation which, at the same time, shapes who we are. Development
Want to see the other 7 page(s) in chapter 5: us, it and social interaction?JOIN TODAY FOR FREE!