theoretical perspective seeks to understand the function that culture plays in supporting a structure of society.individuals and culture function in order to support the structure of their society (Everyone has a roleor function to play to support it)

95% of the sociological work from the 60’s, 70’s 80’s are structuralists,However, “killed” in the 90’s: , bc not actually explain reality, not make sense in our reality. belongs to Sociology tradition

Symbolic interactionism

looks at small scale perspective between interactions of individuals – explains indiv. in a society and their interactions with others. And through that can explain social order and change.

Herbert Blumer

Opposed to positivism paradigm and structural functionalism (Parsons, Merton). Symbolic representation:  meaningful interactions makes society. Society could not influence individuals.1. Individuals gave meaning to particular social forces that would lead persons towards specific actions act based on the meaning we have given to something2. Actors would attributemeaning to whatever they do, otherwise they wouldn’t do these things.same thing could have different meanings for different people, therefore we act differently3. Meanings can change.4. Term “actor” to refer to the individual: Individuals act in society according to their meanings.

According to Parsons, people’s role in society is given by the system. Blumer says subject chooses his/her role in society.Individuals able to influence groups and dimensions of society.Attitudes: are not already organized tendencies but processes through which individuals organize their acts. (internal tendency to behave)Behavior: the external manifestation of the attitude

Importance on the process that has lead individuals to have these attitudes.


Erving Goffman

influenceSchultz – interest in action and interactions of human beings as members of a society.Interactions in life similar to theatrical performancesWORKS:

Frame Analysis: created an entire methodology (used also in communications in other social fields of study)Method allows to understand specific schemata of interpretation (way through which we understand reality that is common to others.Frames through which we see phenomena, created by individuals, become fixed schemata interpretationsWithout frames, world would be a chaotic assemblages of facts and events.Stigma: focused on role of elements that stigmatize actors.performance doesn’t only depend on actors himself, but also on the stigma that the audience attaches to that specific actor.Two forms:

unknown by the public, direct stigma – acknowledged by the audience first person that acknowledges stigmas exist, and they can be part of any sphere of the social and individual life.Different ways to manage with stigmas or just hide it. ie: use stigma to reinforce himself and be distinctive.Influenced by symbolic interactionism:something that at a certain point fixes and influence individuals. Differentiated role of the social identity. Role: something that you put and take from social interactions (student, mother, professor are roles).BUT, you can never abandon your social identity


Alfred Schütz

Phenomenology: study of lived experienced. Phenomena arise from the experience of being in the world.

Studied dramaturgy and ethnomethodology

Studies situation that is commonly understood by different individuals.Impersonal relations: close relations that exist because we already know the meaning of certain phenomena. Idea that society cannot be modified by individuals.Divides social world in two:biographical sphere and impersonal relations.Indiv. have their own face to face interactions which are part of the biographical sphereaffected by part of social world that was given before the interactions of the individuals.

2. Life-world: everyday social reality. Constraints on individuals’ relations and activities: doesn’t force people into one direction completelyBc individual has his own unique biography. Life word is the aggregate world. there are collective meanings: meaning that individuals give to a specific phenomena, also constraints of indiv. behavior.Life-world and the social collective meaning provide to indv. typifications that organize life by creating shortcuts to our understandingof the social world,

but cannot be simply organized in few typifications. There is a continuous tension between the freedom of the individual and the constraints by the collective meanings.The collective meaning can change through face to face interactions.

Perspectives Influenced by Phenomenology (influenced Schütz)


ethnomethodology: peoples methods. how ordinary member of society makes sense of everyday life by “accounting practices”


non-positivist, looking routine in society organization

Social facts: objective but product of member’s methodological activitynot deterministic, individuals constitute society (members not actors), not society influences individuals (all responsibility on indiv)collective meaning that people produce in society. Not fixed (as Durkheim though they were).not static, there is a process: what individuals put in society becomes a collective influence for all if makes sense of them.Therefore, the individual is still free.

Social change happens when individuals challenge the social meanings in society.

Breaching experiments Interested in the ways in which we maintain unspoken and unwritten rules of interactionEthnomethodologists would challenge the routine, then he could understand the process through which social facts are constituted. Gender is also accomplished and constituted.

Ie: Garfinkel asked students to go home and act in odd ways and see how they react. He studied those reactions. Furthermore, the students should keep silence regarding the experiment (cant tell parents). What happened was that the parents tried to provide explanations themselves for those weird behaviors. they looked for events and similar situations in which their children acted in weird ways. Rules and procedures that we have and the way individuals constitute the reality and their reactions in these occasions.

Types of analysis: 1) Studies of institutional settings and informal settings (rules, procedures, structures, …)

2) Conversational analysis. 3) Breaching experiments. 4) Accomplishing gender.

Social Constructivism

Everything exists become individual give them reality through social agreement: money (no value if we don’t put it) P. BERGER and T. LUCKMANN: started social constructivism in “The Social Construction of Reality”

Reality is socially constructed and therefore individuals are not completely responsible.Individuals construct society, but society also socially construct individuals. “society: product of a human design”GENDER is socially constructed. “Women socially construct themselves as women”Sometimes, idea of socially constructed gender is challenged:maybe gender socialized into is not representative of their real gender, or they justnot believe in idea of genderGender is socially constructed and therefore gender doesn’t exist apart from the role that society would impose for that gender.individuals interact in socially institutionalized (the act of implanting a convention or norm into society.) ways of organizing collective life. (positivism and non-positivist perspectives). interested in religion: individuals who interact together within a symbolic universe of shared beliefs, symbols, meaning.. Sacred Canopyfacilitates their sense-making and enhances their social integration.