Chapter summary imageMicrosociology studies the small interactions of everyday life, instead of focusing on the large-scale interactions of a society.

What Elements Create a Social Structure?

macrosociology and microsociology.

How do the Three Paradigms View Social Structure?


social institutions and structures serve essential functions in a society

Conflict Theory:

the structure and culture of the underprivileged are deliberately weakened for the benefit of the dominant group

Symbolic Interactionism:

social construction of reality: “If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences”

How Can Social Policies Improve Society?

high-quality preschool programs: improve the lives of the participants; decrease the amount of funding needed for other social programs (special education, welfare)



  • social institutions and structures are essential functions for society
  • five primary tasks of society that create social structures: (1) adaptation and replacement, (2) orientation and socialization, (3) production and economy, (4) social order, (5) unity and purpose
  • just because society is having its needs met, this does not mean individual members of society are also having their needs fulfilled

Conflict Theory

  • study issues such as race, social class, and inequality
  • conflict theorists perceive a pattern of inequality for the U.S. poor that does not occur on an international level, such as Hurricane Katrina relief

Symbolic Interactionism

  • a person’s social creation of reality may take into account social issues such as job opportunities, welfare policies, unemployment, and access to a living wage
  • experiences with these issues can have an effect on people, causing them to alter their creation of reality

Key Terms


is the study of large-scale society, focusing on the social structures that exist within a society and examining how those structures create the social world.


is the study of the small inter- actions of daily life.

Social Structures

are patterns of relationships that endure from one generation to the next.


are any number of people with similar norms, values, and behaviors who frequently interact with one another.

Primary groups

are groups that are small, intimate, and enduring.

Secondary Groups

are groups that are formal, superficial, and temporary.

Social class

is a group with similar access to power, wealth, and prestige.


is the position that you occupy within the social structure, which is often closely linked to social class.

Achieved Atatus

is a type of position that you earn or do something to attain.

Ascribed Status

is a position in society that is given or assigned.

Master status

is the status toward which we gravitate.


is the behavior of a specific status.

Role Expectations

are the anticipated behaviors for a particular role.

Role Performance

is the degree to which a person plays the role in a manner we expect.

Role Conflict

is a phenomenon occurring when one is forced to choose between the competing demands of multiple roles.

Role Strain

occurs when the demands and expectations of one role are impossible for us to satisfy.


is a mark of disgrace associated with a particular status, quality, or person.

Discredited Stigma

is a stigma that cannot be hidden from others or is no longer hidden from others.

Discreditable Stigma

is a stigma that can be concealed from others.

Social Institutions

are structures that provide for patterned relationships.


refers to community connections that involve personal relationships based on friendship and kinship ties, such as family.


refers to societal connections that are more formal and impersonal.

Personal Space

is the invisible bubble that each of us has around ourselves to insulate us from others.

Intimate Distance

is distance reserved for those with whom we are very close.

Personal Distance

is distance that ranges from 18 inches to 4 feet; this distance is for normal conversations.

Social Distance

is distance that ranges from about 4 feet to 12 feet and is usually reserved for formal settings.

Public Distance

is the zone of interaction that is used in highly formal settings; this distance includes everything greater than 12feet.

Impression Management

is management of the impression that the performer makes on others.

Front Stage

is what the audience see, or the part of ourselves that we present to others.


is the demeanor that incorporates our true feelings and beliefs.


is a state that occurs when we realize our act has failed.

Face-saving Work

is a reaction to embarrassment in the form of either humor, anger, or retreat.

Demographic Similarity

refers to shared characteristics such as race, gender, or age.

Supervisor-focused Impression Management

refers to techniques that involve flattering your boss and agreeing with your boss’ opinions (or at least avoiding disagreements whenever possible).

Self-focused Impression Management

refers to techniques that include acting modest about your accomplishments (even if that modesty is false), boasting occasionally about your successes, and showing your friendliness and self-assuredness through smiles and eye contact.


1. What are the differences between an industrial society and a post-industrial society?

2. How do societies demonstrate adaptation and replacement for survival? Give examples.

3. Why is it important to observe the conventions of personal space?

4. Explain how a group might change from a Gemeinschaft to a Gesellschaft.

5. Which systems would a conflict theorist target when addressing the issue of poverty? Why?

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