<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

Symbolic interactionists offer another lens through which to analyze the social construction of reality. With a theoretical perspective focused on the symbols (like language, gestures, and artifacts) that people use to interact, this approach is interested in how people interpret those symbols in daily interactions. For example, we might feel fright at seeing a person holding a gun, unless, of course, it turns out to be a police officer. Interactionists also recognize that language and body language reflect our values. One has only to learn a foreign tongue to know that not every English word can be easily translated into another language. The same is true for gestures. While Americans might recognize a “thumbs up” as meaning “great,” in Germany it would mean “one” and in Japan it would mean “five.” Thus, our construction of reality is influenced by our symbolic interactions.

Painting depicting Oedipus and three other ancient Greek figures.
The story line of a self-fulfilling prophecy appears in many literary works, perhaps most famously in the story of Oedipus. Oedipus is told by an oracle that he will murder his father and marry his mother. In going out of his way to avoid his fate, Oedipus inadvertently fulfills it. Oedipus’s story illustrates one way in which members of society contribute to the social construction of reality. (Photo courtesy of Jean-Antoine-Theodore Giroust/Wikimedia Commons)

Roles and status

As you can imagine, people employ many types of behaviors in day-to-day life. Roles are patterns of behavior that we recognize in each other that are representative of a person’s social status. Currently, while reading this text, you are playing the role of a student. However, you also play other roles in your life, such as “daughter,” “neighbor,” or “employee.” These various roles are each associated with a different status.

Sociologists use the term status    to describe the responsibilities and benefits that a person experiences according to their rank and role in society. Some statuses are ascribed —those you do not select, such as son, elderly person, or female. Others, called achieved statuses , are obtained by choice, such as a high school dropout, self-made millionaire, or nurse. As a daughter or son, you occupy a different status than as a neighbor or employee. One person can be associated with a multitude of roles and statuses. Even a single status such as “student” has a complex role-set    , or array of roles, attached to it (Merton 1957).

If too much is required of a single role, individuals can experience role strain    . Consider the duties of a parent: cooking, cleaning, driving, problem-solving, acting as a source of moral guidance—the list goes on. Similarly, a person can experience role conflict    when one or more roles are contradictory. A parent who also has a full-time career can experience role conflict on a daily basis. When there is a deadline at the office but a sick child needs to be picked up from school, which comes first? When you are working toward a promotion but your children want you to come to their school play, which do you choose? Being a college student can conflict with being an employee, being an athlete, or even being a friend. Our roles in life have a great effect on our decisions and who we become.

Questions & Answers

Please suggest me topics for thesis?
what is the relevent important of sociology of education in a training teacher
socio-cultural problem of single mother's ?
Wajid which locality do you belong to? It should be relavent to the issues you and your community experiences.
Adam Adamu what do you mean by a training teacher?
what is need of sociology in Pakistani culture
Sumbul Khan there are numerous problums faced by the single mothers in a particular society. Most of the times when there is no support and protection, They both will be unsecure in numerous ways i.e educationaly, financialy, health wise, and will be prone to moral degradation and harrasment...
hi dears
Is sociology a good optional subject for upsc ?
At Abshar khan, see, a layman cannot understand the society the way a sociologist did..a critical understand is necessary for solving the core issues or problems of the society.
On the other hand as we know that cultur is a way of life so the single mother with her children would be devalued if there is lack of morality there should be numerous factors contributing to the it, different social setup creats different cultural problems as it is a relative phenomenon.
At sadiq,thank you for your explanation but that's the topic name I am suggesting to Wajid for his thesis.
Oh! Realy anyway it is a good one.
sumbul why we will learning eng. Eng is not our colligue language. our culture is following English normally when we study in schools college it's will most important that we will learn English but I think this is not imptnt that if we will learn our colegue language I mean Hindi,chinese,pushto ?
anybody knows Spanish🙁
Nolissa Reply
little words Google translater helps lol
this is not a language forum
define stereotype with an example?
Bernard Reply
it's a mistaken idea or belief that several people have about something.
what kind of idea? please be more specific
stereotypes can be seen by an over-generalized belief about a particular group of people i.e when we make quick decisions, they may be erroneous when applied to particular individuals. It can also encourage prejudice & may arise for a number of reasons.
the generalization of group of streotype because of the certain beliefs of other groups?
Identifing someone or something based on race, ethnicity, gender, etc (generally physically) therefore (for example) if there is a Muslim kid wearing traditional clothing, you cannot identify that person as a terrorist based on their appearance. You cannot judge a book by its cover basically...
if i say stereotypes based on race lead to racism, gender lead to sexism/ masculinity/feminism, and ageism like young and adults is that correct?
What is Cultural Revivalism ?
It refers to the formation of a group identity which is around a common culture. Which is recovered after losses that are due to colonization, forced or voluntary relocation, oppression, or modernization
how is emergency of sociology linked with modernization of Europe ?
aditya Reply
hello everyone am francis
Francis Reply
what is value in sociology
aditya Reply
Its give us to know about every field of human interaction
it's the Importantance and lasting beliefs or ideals which are shared by the members of a culture about what is good or bad & desirable or undesirable. Values are deemed a major influence on which a person's behavior & attitude can serve as a broad guidelines in all situations.
what is meant by folkways
folkways are customs or conventions in everyday life, from different types of social norm & expectations for how we act. Sociology, folkways can generally be discussed in contrast to mores because they are both types of social norms & can vary from traditional behaviour or way of life.
folkways is a type of deviant that has no too strong sanctions applied when an act is committed by a person in a society.
what are the examples of folkways
what is meant by inter generational and intra generational mobility
examples of folkways are to coercive force by shaping our values, beliefs, behavior, and interactions. Religions also have prohibitions on cohabitating with a romantic partner before marriage.
intergenerational mobility can refer to any changes in which family's social position between generations & contrast to intragenerational  mobility, of which is a person's social movement within his/hers lifetime.
what is social status ?
Sarah Reply
individuals possession
possession of wealth and degree ?
human view...that is whatever u r belong too
ok thnx
Your social status in your social environment.
social status is an individual materialistic wealth
Race, birth, Caste these social status...
Your social status is where you appear on the socialogical map and can effect everything from the schools you can go to or the way you are treated?
we all have a sense of system in which society, social classentails determination a person's social class, which is based on socioeconomic variables that is mainly income, wealth and education
what is social justice
social justice is in terms a distribution of wealth, opportunities & privileges that is within a society of individuality. Which gives way to the struggle to social justice.
what is social mobility
In my opinion, it's like your ability to move up or down the social ladder in society depending on the way you handle your finances or assets
what is value in sociology?
Also, social mobility is attained or ascribed.
what is culture
Mohammad Reply
is the total way of life
manners and art that are favored by social group
Man made part of environment is called culture
defferentiat b/w sociology and anthropology.
what is the meaning of culture
Nithin Reply
culture in it's simplest term means the people way of life
Culture is thd way of life people of a given society live on.
culture differs from society to society. when u hear or see a particular culture of a group of people. it will b easy for u to know th particular society dat has the culture. hope I tried. correction is allowed.
man made enviorment is called culture
man made enviorment is called culture
defferentiat b/w culture and society
hello what is the different between crime and offence
Floxy Reply
crime refers to the actions of committing the mistakes but offense refers to the words of committing the mistakes
subject matter and nature of sociology ..can u plz help m
social interaction and intergration
Gender issues example
Je Reply
what is the relationship between sociology and psychology...similarities and differences
I'm unsure but I'm going to guess that one's studies the social interactions and environments and Psychology studies the brain and why one does react certain ways to certain things in society/ the environment and so on. It's much deeper than that but that's the surface of it I believe.
Yes Whitney, my understanding is the same. Further to your explanation, Sociologists examine problems and causes, then identify solutions. For example Durkhime (1879), his study on suicide.
The similarities are that they both study social behaviour. They just do it from a different point of view.
Sociology deals with the external behavior( attitude, style) while psychology with the Internal (brain)
It's better start the dispute between these two departments.. Anyone interested
Sociology studies the structure and function of society and what factors disturbs the social setup means a social problem while Psychology is the study of mental processes.
Relationship is that both provides explanation and remedies to the problems arise in social setup. Individuals affect society while society affect individual. Somtimes both approaches to same problem debffirently.
Psychology deals mainly with the brain buh has social values embedded under itself... sociology cannot simply move on without psychology
Sociology is an independent discipline which have its own way of approaching towards social issues it has its founding father since 14th century Ibn e Khaldun. It is the mother of social sciences.
Discuss conflict perspective and give 8 references
critically analyze the role of education as an instrument of social change in Zambia
Mirriam Reply
discuss the culture pertained to rural society is both dynamic and continuously changing
Saurabh Reply
sociologhesis in order to do wat
Sherie Reply
socologist theories are used to do wat
Hello everyone, Here Suraj kumar singh , MSW from Patna university. please explain someone about social values and social norms.
SOCIAL ACTION Behaviour that is meaningful to the actor and/or to the observer
please anyone to help me how social inequity influence social relations and population relations- just give points, Thanks
people are ignored hence look down upon themselves there is rise in population because people are not allowed to be educated on how to plan their family effectively

Get the best Introduction to sociol... course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Introduction to sociology 2e' conversation and receive update notifications?