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The importance of conduct in our social world

Describe what is meant by dramaturgy and by impression management. Provide one example of role conflict or role strain. List one or two gender differences in nonverbal communication. A fundamental feature of social life is social interactionor the ways in which people act with other people and react to how other people are acting.

To recall our earlier paraphrase of John Donne, no one is an island.

Importance of Ethics in Today?s Society: Special Emphasis on Medical Ethics

This means that all individuals, except those who choose to live truly alone, interact with other individuals virtually every day and often many times in any one day. For social order, a prerequisite for any society, to be possible, effective social interaction must be possible. Partly for this reason, sociologists interested in microsociology have long tried to understand social life by analyzing how and why people interact they way they do. This section draws on their work to examine various social influences on individual behavior.

As you read this section, you will probably be reading many things relevant to your own social interaction.

Social interaction is a fundamental feature of social life. For social order to be possible, effective social interaction must also be possible. The reverse is also true: We have seen many examples of this process in earlier chapters. Among other things, we learn from our socialization how far apart to stand when talking to someone else, we learn to enjoy kissing, we learn how to stand and behave in an elevator, and we learn how to behave when we are drunk.

The importance of roles for social interaction merits further discussion here. Roles and Social Interaction Our earlier discussion of roles defined them as the behaviors expected of people in a certain status.

Regardless of our individual differences, if we are in a certain status, we are all expected to behave in a way appropriate to that status. Roles thus help make social interaction possible.

As our example of shoppers the importance of conduct in our social world cashiers was meant to suggest, social interaction based on roles is usually very automatic, and we often perform our roles without thinking about them. This, in fact, is why social interaction is indeed possible: Analogously, if actors in a play always had to read the script before performing their lines, as an understudy sometimes does, the play would be slow and stilted. It is when people violate their roles that the importance of roles is thrown into sharp relief.

Suppose you were shopping in a department store, and while you were in the checkout line the cashier asked you how your sex life has been! Now, you might expect such an intimate question from a very close friend, because discussions of intimate matters are part of the roles close friends play, but you would definitely not expect it from a cashier you do not know. As this example suggests, effective social interaction rests on shared background assumptionsor our understanding of the roles expected of people in a given encounter, that are easily violated if one has the nerve to do so.

If they are violated, social order might well break down, as you would quickly find if you dared to ask your cashier how her or his sex life has been, or if two students sitting in class violated their student role by kissing each other passionately.

Sociologist Harold Garfinkel 1967 argued that unexpected events like these underscore how fragile social order is and remind us that people are constantly constructing the social reality of the situations in which they find themselves. Not surprisingly, their parents quickly became flustered and wondered what college was doing to their daughters and sons! These examples indicate that social reality is to a large extent socially constructed.

It is what we make of it, and individuals who interact help construct the reality of the situation in which they interact. Although we usually come into a situation with shared understandings of what is about to happen, as the interaction proceeds the actors continue to define the situation and thus to construct its reality.

This view lies at the heart of the symbolic interactionist perspective and helps us understand how and why roles or to be more precise, our understanding of what behavior is expected of someone in a certain status make social interaction possible.

Roles and Personalities Roles help us interact and help make social order possible, but they may even shape our personalities. The idea here is that if we assume a new role, the expectations of that role can change how we interact with others and even the way we think about ourselves.

In short, roles can change our personalities. Roles can shape personalities. When individuals become police officers, the nature of their job can prompt them to act and think in a more authoritarian manner.

A telling example of this effect comes from the story of a criminal justice professor from Florida named George Kirkham. In his classes, Kirkham would be critical of the harshness with which police treated suspects and other citizens. One day, some police officers in one of his classes said Kirkham could not begin to understand what it was like being a police officer, and they challenged him to become one. He took up the the importance of conduct in our social world by gaining admission to a police academy and going through the regular training program for all recruits.

Kirkham 1984 later recounted what happened on his first few days on the job. In one episode, he and his veteran partner went into a bar where an intoxicated patron had been causing trouble. Kirkham politely asked the patron to go with him outside. Kirkham could not believe this happened and was forced to subdue his assailant. In another episode, Kirkham and his partner were checking out the driver of a double-parked car.

  • A key question is whether gender differences in emotions as well as other gender differences stem more from biology or more from culture, socialization, and other social origins;
  • I was talking to a professor from a Middle Eastern nation who was standing very close to me.

An ugly crowd soon gathered and began making threats. In recounting this episode, Kirkham wrote that as a professor he quickly would have condemned the police officer he had now become. In a few short days, he had turned from a polite, kind professor into a gruff, angry police officer. His role had changed and, along with it, his personality. Role Problems Roles help our interactions run smoothly and automatically and, for better or worse, shape our personalities.

But roles can also cause various kinds of problems. One such problem is role conflictwhich occurs when the roles of our many statuses conflict with each other. For example, say you are a student and also a parent. Your 3-year-old child gets sick. You now have a conflict between your role as a parent and your role as a student. To perform your role as a parent, you should stay home with your sick child.

To perform your role as a student, you should go to your classes and take the big exam that had been scheduled weeks ago.

What do you do? One thing is clear: To resolve role conflict, we ordinarily have to choose between one role and the other, which is often a difficult choice to make. In this example, if you take care of your child, you miss your classes and exam; if you go to your classes, you have to leave your child at home alone, an unacceptable and illegal option.

Another way to resolve role conflict is to find some alternative that would meet the needs of your conflicting roles. In our sick child example, you might be able to find someone to watch your child until you can get back from classes.

It is certainly desirable to find such alternatives, but, unfortunately, they are not always forthcoming. If role conflict becomes too frequent and severe, a final option is to leave one of your statuses altogether.

In our example, if you find it too difficult to juggle your roles as parent and student, you could stop being a parent—hardly likely! Most of us in these circumstances would try our best to avoid having to do this. Another role-related problem is called role strain. Here you have one status, and a role associated with it, that is causing problems because of all the demands coming to you from people in other statuses with which your own status is involved.

Suppose you were a high school principal. In your one role as a principal, you come into contact with people in several different statuses: These statuses may make competing demands on you in your one role as a principal.

5.3 Social Interaction in Everyday Life

If your high school has a dress code, for example, the students may want you to abolish it, the teachers and superintendent may want you to keep it, and maybe the school board would agree with the students. As you try to please all these competing factions, you certainly might experience some role strain!

A third type of role problem occurs when we occupy a status whose role demands a certain type of personality that differs from the one we actually have. Can you imagine a police officer who was afraid of guns? An athlete who was not competitive?

A flight attendant who did not like helping people or was afraid of flying? Although most people avoid this type of role problem by not taking on a role to which their personality is ill suited, such problems occur nonetheless.

  • To feel more comfortable, I moved back a step or two, without really realizing it;
  • You are the same person regardless of what clothes you wear, but if you dress for a job interview as you would dress for a party to use our earlier example , the person interviewing you would get an impression you might not want to convey;
  • Turner and Jan E.

For example, some people who dislike children and do not have the patience to be good parents end up being parents anyway. In another example, your author once knew a new professor who was woefully nervous lecturing in front of students. You might wonder why he became a professor in the first place, but he probably just loved the subject matter so much that he thought he would overcome his nervousness.

Dramaturgy and Impression Management From a sociological standpoint, much of our social interaction can be understood by likening it to a performance in a play.

They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts. As You Like It, Act II, Scene 7 From this perspective, each individual has many parts or roles to play in society, and many of these roles specify how we should interact in any given situation. These roles exist before we are born, and they continue long after we die.

The culture of society is thus similar to the script of a play.

Roles and Social Interaction

Just as actors in a play learn what lines to say, where to stand on the stage, how to the importance of conduct in our social world their bodies, and so many other things, so do we learn as members of society the roles that specify how we should interact.

This fundamental metaphor was developed and popularized by sociologist Erving Goffman 1959 in what he called a dramaturgical approach. By this he meant that we can understand social interaction as if it were a theatrical performance. People who interact are actors on a stage, the things they say and do are equivalent to the parts actors play, and any people who observe their interaction are equivalent to the audience at a play.

As sociologists Jonathan H. Turner and Jan E. Beyond these aspects of his theatrical analogy, Goffman also stressed that the presentation of self guides social interaction just as it guides behavior in a play. Actors in a play, he wrote, aim to act properly, which at a minimum means they need to say their lines correctly and in other ways carry out their parts as they were written.

They try to convey the impression of their character the playwright had in mind when the play was written and the director has in mind when the play is presented. Such impression managementGoffman wrote, also guides social interaction in everyday life.