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Chapter 4: Social Structure and Social Interaction

4.4 End-of-Chapter Material

  1. The major components of social structure are statuses, roles, groups and organizations, and social institutions.
  2. As societies moved beyond the foraging stage, they became larger and more impersonal and individualistic and were characterized by increasing inequality and conflict.
  3. Industrial societies developed about 250 years ago after several inventions allowed work to become more mechanized. The Industrial Revolution has had important consequences, some good and some bad, in virtually every area of society. Postindustrial societies have begun in the last few decades with the advent of the computer and an increasing number of service jobs. While it’s too soon to know the consequences of the advent of post-industrialization, there are signs it will have important implications for the nature of work and employment in modern society.
  4. One of the questions asked by sociologists is how does society change? Numerous theories have been proposed, from the unilinear and multilinear evolution theories to equilibrium theory. In addition, social change also arises from inventions, discoveries and cultural diffusion.
  5. Erving Goffman used a theatrical metaphor called dramaturgy to understand social interaction, which he likened to behavior on a stage in a play. More generally, many sociologists stress the concept of roles in social interaction. Although we usually play our roles automatically, social order occasionally breaks down when people don’t play their roles. This breakdown illustrates the fragility of social order.
  6. Although roles help us interact, they can also lead to problems such as role conflict and role strain. In another problem, some individuals may be expected to carry out a role that demands a personality they do not have.
  7. Nonverbal communication is an essential part of social interaction. The sexes differ in several forms of nonverbal communication. Biologists and sociologists differ on the origins of these differences.


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Exploring Our Social World: The Story of Us by Jean Ramirez; Rudy Hernandez; Aliza Robison; Pamela Smith; and Willie Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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