Chapter 6. Social Interaction

Chapter 6 Resources and Activities

Key Terms

achieved statuses: Statuses obtained by personal effort or choice.

ascribed status: Statuses obtained by attributions outside of an individual’s control, such as sex or race.

definition of the situation: The mutual understanding of a shared social context, which arises out of communicative interaction

dramaturgical analysis: A technique sociologists use in which they view society through the metaphor of theatrical performance.

emotion management: Producing or inhibiting feelings according to the social expectations of different situations.

emotional labour: The production of emotional qualities required as an aspect of paid labour.

face:  An image of self delineated in terms of approved social attributes.

face-work: The management of one’s face in light of the responses of others.

feeling rules:  A set of socially shared guidelines that define appropriate emotions in given situations.

habitualization: The process whereby social patterns become routinized through repetition so they can be performed again in the future in the same manner and with the same economical effort

impression management: Strategies used by a performer to control the impressions and responses of the others in a social interaction.

institutionalization: The act of implanting a convention or norm into society.

line:  An act of self-presentation in which an individual expresses their view of the situation, their attitude towards the other members of the group, and their attitude towards themselves.

looking-glass self: The individual’s perception of how think think they appear to others.

practice of the self:  Shared way in which people freely or voluntarily act upon themselves to transform themselves

role conflict: When one or more of an individual’s roles clash.

role performance: The expression of a role.

role strain: Stress that occurs when too much is required of a single role.

role-set: An array of roles attached to a particular status.

roles: Patterns of behaviour that are representative of a person’s social status.

self-fulfilling prophecy: An idea that becomes true when acted on.

social interaction:  The process of social exchange and reciprocal influence exercised by individuals over one another during social encounters.

social scripts:  Pre-established patterns of behaviour that people are expected to follow in specific social situations.

status: The privileges and benefits that a person experiences according to their prestige and role in society.

structure of feeling: Large scale, societal patterns in people’s feelings or emotional responses towards things

Thomas theorem: How a subjective reality can drive events to develop in accordance with that reality, despite being originally unsupported by objective reality.

Section Summary

6.1 Micro-Level Interaction

Society is based on the social construction of reality. How people define society influences how society actually is. Likewise, how people see other people influences their actions as well as people’s actions toward them. People take on various roles throughout their lives, and their social interactions depend on what types of roles they assume, who they assume them with, and the scene where interaction takes place.


Quiz: Social Interaction

6.1 Micro-Level Interaction

  1. Mary works full-time at an office downtown while her young children stay at a neighbour’s house. She’s just learned that the child care provider is leaving the country. Mary has succumbed to pressure to volunteer at her church, plus her ailing mother-in-law will be moving in with her next month. Which of the following is likely to occur as Mary tries to balance her existing and new responsibilities?
    1. role strain
    2. self-fulfilling prophecy
    3. status conflict
    4. status strain
  2. According to Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann, society is based on                 .
    1. habitual actions
    2. social facts
    3. structures of feeling
    4. role performance
  3. Paco knows that women find him attractive, and he has never found it hard to get a date. But as he ages, he dyes his hair to hide the grey and wears clothes that camouflage the weight he has put on. Paco’s behaviour can be best explained by the concept of                 .
    1. role strain
    2. the looking-glass self
    3. role performance
    4. habitualization

[Quiz answers at end of chapter]

Short Answer

6.1 Micro-Level Interactions

  1. Draw a large circle and then “slice” the circle into pieces like a pie, labeling each piece with a role or status that you occupy. Add as many statuses, ascribed and achieved, that you have. Do not forget things like dog owner, gardener, traveler, student, runner, employee. How many statuses do you have? In which ones are there role conflicts?
  2. Think of a “self-fulfilling prophecy” that you have witnessed or experienced. Based on this experience, do you agree with the Thomas theorem? What are the implications of the Thomas theorem for the difference between studying natural as opposed to social phenomena? Or is there a difference?

Further Research

6.1 Micro-Level Interactions
TV Tropes ( is a website where users identify concepts that are commonly used in literature, film, and other media. Although its tone is for the most part humorous, the site provides a good jumping-off point for research. Browse the list of examples under the entry of “Self-Fulfilling Prophecy” ( Pay careful attention to the real-life examples. Are there ones that surprised you or that you do not agree with?


6.0 Introduction to Social Interaction

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6.1 Micro-Level Interaction

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Monty Python (Writers), Goldstone, J. (Producer), and Jones, T. (Director). (1979). Monty Python’s life of Brian. Handmade Films.

Prooijen, J-W. and K. Douglas. (2018). Belief in conspiracy theories: Basic principles of an emerging research domain. European Journal of Social Psychology, 48(7), 897–908.

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Pulido, C., Villarejo-Carballido, B., Redondo-Sama, G., and Gómez. A. (2020). COVID-19 infodemic: More retweets for science-based information on coronavirus than for false information. International Sociology, 35(4), 377–392.

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Remski, M. (2021, November 8). When QAnon came to Canada: As the conspiracy theories continue to creep northward, experts warn that we should be prepared for anything. The Walrus.

Schaffer, M. (2021, January 19). Conspiracy theorists target comet ping pong on Trump’s last night in office. Washingtonian.  Retrieved from

Stearns, P. (2014). Modern patterns in emotions history. In Matt, S. and P. Stearns (Eds.), Doing emotions history (pp. 1740). University of Illinois Press.

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Solutions to Quiz: Social Interaction

1 A, | 2 A, | 3 B, [Return to Quiz]


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