Shaping Identity Using Social Structure

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Social structure and social interaction are integral in evaluating a person’s identity. Identities are the sets of meanings people hold for themselves that define “what it means” to be who they are as persons, as role occupants and as group members (PJB article) People are generally influenced by the norms and beliefs of society. A person’s identity is formed through a combination of factors derived from social structure (macrosociology) and social interaction (microsociology). The self influences society through the actions of individuals thereby creating groups, organizations, networks, and institutions (PJB a soiciological approach to self and identity). Reciprocally, society influences the self through its shared language and meanings that enable a person to take the role of the other, engage in social interaction, and reflect upon oneself as an object.(PJB, a sociological approach to self and identity). This essay explores how components of social structure can be more important in shaping an individual identity than social interaction.

PARAGRAPH 1 (Definitions& Context)
Social structure refers to the framework that surrounds us, consisting of the relationships of people and groups, which gives direction to and sets limits on behaviour. (Sociology, A Down to Earth Approach SDEA) K Plummer defines social structures as the patterns of predictable human actions that cluster around key problems in living and they vary in all societies. Social structure is all around us and is what helps to dictate our behaviour and keep our life in order. It sets the scene for an individual to behave and act appropriately in different settings at different times. Social structure is made up of culture, social class, social status, roles, groups and social institutions (SDEA). Social interaction is the way that people interact with one another (SDEA). According to K Plummer, human beings engage continually in social action and interaction with others –...
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