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Social Interaction in Everyday Life

Social structure

the ordered relationships and patterned expectations that guide social interaction


a socially defined position in a social structure

status set

all of the statuses a person has at a given time

status inconsistency

two or more statuses that a society deems contradictory

ascribed statuses

statuses assigned to individuals without reference to their abilities or efforts

achieved statuses

statuses secured through effort and ability

master status

a status that dominates all other statuses


a set of expectations, rights, and duties that are attached to a particular status

role distance

when people play a role but remain detached from it to avoid any negative aspects of the role

role embracement

when a person's sense of identity is partially influenced by a role

role merger

when a role becomes central to a person's identity and the person literally becomes the role he or she is playing

role set

multiple roles that are attached to almost every status

role strain

contradictory expectations and demands attached to a single role

role conflict

when a person cannot fulfill the roles of one status without violating those of another

social network

the total web of an individuals relationships and group memberships

social institutions

relatively enduring clusters of values, norms, social statuses, roles, and groups that address fundamental social needs

social interaction

mutual influence of two or more people on each other's behavior

social perception

the process by which we form impressions of others and of ourselves


static and oversimplified ideas about a group or a social category

social acts

behaviors influenced or shaped by the presence of others

personal space

an area around our body that we reserve for ourselves, intimate acquaintances, and close friends

nonverbal communication

the body movements, gestures, and facial expressions that we use to communicate with others

definition of the situation

the idea that when people define situations as real they become real in their consequences


analyzes social interaction as though participants were actors in an ongoing drama

impression management

ways that people use revelation and concealment to make a favorable impression on others


a way of analyzing the "taken-for-granted" aspects that give meaning to social interaction

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