Topics: Sociology, Institution, Anti-psychiatry Pages: 6 (1525 words) Published: August 7, 2014

TMA04: Compare and contrast two social science views about the ordering of social life

- Define ‘ordered society’
- Define ‘ordered in social situations’
- Macro society – hierarchy, rules, laws, institutions, dispenses knowledge – ordered society - Micro society – unwritten rules, learnt behaviours, socialisation – ordered social situations

- Outline main views
- Theatre/roles
- We are all acting certain roles in society
- Unwritten rules
- Present

- Outline main views
- We are under surveillance
- Big Brother – James Orwell
- Stage control – language
- Ministry of Truth
- Historic


Buchanan Report and Monderman Thesis
- Using traffic as an example of social order
- What would happen if there was no social order?
- Netherlands – no road markings etc.
- Integration of schools/parks into ‘shared space’ as ‘contextual signals’ = more effective on driving behaviour than signs etc.


TMA04: Compare and contrast two social science views about the ordering of social life

Society comprises lots of diverse and dynamic social groups: students, parents, the working class, politicians, celebrities, as well as colleagues in work places and people in leisure clubs. So how do all of these different social groups interlink and work together in society and how do people know how to behave in different situations and groups?

From the moment we enter the world we have society’s expectations of different genders, a baby dressed in blue one day would receive different comments than the same baby dressed in pink the following day, and rules and knowledge thrust upon us – we are taught to say please and thank you and to respect our elders; we are in education from as young as four learning how to behave in society; it is instilled in us that in order to succeed we must educate ourselves and behave in certain ways and to follow norms – shared sets of values which dictate how we should behave in society (Silva, 2009).

Social life can be broken down into different levels, macro – the large scale structures of social life, such as states and nations; meso – intermediate structures, social institutions such as schools and prisons which looks at patterns of behaviour; and micro – small structures such as personal interactions (Silva, 2009).

Ordered society is an example of a macro society – using laws and common understanding (norms) (Silva, 2009) of acceptable behaviour based on respect for all people leading to a generally peaceful and law abiding population to order society which is broken down into rules and is governed by laws and surveillance.

Ordered social situations are an example of a micro society – behaviour which is learned (socialisation) which often uses unwritten rules, such as not queue jumping or saying please.

An example of a meso society would be a school or prison.

Erving Goffman, a micro sociologist who studied social patterns of everyday life and who had a modernistic approach, (Silva, 2009) undertook studies and wrote several books that were based around how we present ourselves to society and looked into the theory that social change is created by actions being worked and reworked and that patterns of interaction create social order (Silva, 2009) as opposed to social change being created by power.

Goffman’s basic principle was that we are all playing roles in society - as though performing in a theatre production. Goffman believed that society is not a separate entity but, instead, is a construction created by the actions of individuals together and the unwritten rules of society (Silva, 2009).

As mentioned above, Goffman used the theatre as a metaphor to describe his theories: the stage was where people performed to society, trying to give their best performance, and the backstage was where they could be themselves and...
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