lec020110 - Sociology 101-24 Introduction to Sociology...

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Sociology 101-24 Introduction to Sociology Professor: Deborah Carr ( carrds@sociology.rutgers.edu ) Monday February 1, 2010 Theory (con’td) How Do We Study People? Social Research Methods C. Microlevel Theory. These theories are most often used to explain interactions between individuals, or within social institutions. 1. Symbolic Interactionism (SI) a. Core assumptions. i. This theory stresses the exchange of symbols between individuals in social interaction. Unlike other theories, this perspective emphasizes the individual, not society as a whole. Specifically, SI argues that “symbols” are words, gestures and objects that communicate meaning between people. But no particular word or symbol has inherent meaning. Rather meaning is created when people in an interaction arrive at a shared understanding of what something means. ii. A person’s behavior is constructed through give and take during interaction with others. Behavior is not merely a response to stimuli, nor is it an expressing of inner biological drives. Rather, a person’s behavior emerges through communication and interaction with others. iii. In order for an interaction to occur, there must be a “shared definition of the situation.” (e.g., in the SNL skit “Pat,” social interactions and conversations would often fall part, because the participants could not establish a shared definition of the situation, given Pat’s ambivalent gender). iv. Social phenomena are emergent, they are not predetermined. v. This theory is a response to widespread adherence to empiricism. SI counters that nothing is truly or inherently “deviant” unless that assessment is arrived at through consensus of the interacting parties. B. Critiques 1. The SI perspective neglects social structure, and stratification that exists outside of an individual interaction. 2. The perspective over-emphasizes humans’ needs for cooperation and shared understanding. I. Research Methods - What are our goals? [When you read about a study, try to ascertain
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This note was uploaded on 11/20/2011 for the course SOCIOLOGY 920:101 taught by Professor Carr during the Spring '10 term at Rutgers.

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lec020110 - Sociology 101-24 Introduction to Sociology...

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