Technological Mediation of Interaction in Focused Encounters Ecological and Demographic Dynamics in Unfocused Encounters Juxtaposition of Bodies and Movement in Unfocused Encounters The Organization of Space in Unfocused Encounters Props and their Use in Unfocused Encounters Technologically Mediation of Unfocused Encounters Elementary Principles on the Ecology and Demography of Encounters Status-Organizing Processes Status Dynamics in Focused Encounters The Clarity of Status Network Dynamics and Status Power and Authority as Status Prestige and Honor as Status Embedding of Status Status Dynamics in Unfocused Encounters Determining Status in Corporate Units Status and Categoric Units Elementary Principles on Status Dynamics in Encounters The Dynamics of Roles in Focused Encounters Role-Taking and Role-Making Verification and Re-verification of Roles Complimentary Roles Normatizing of Roles The Dynamism of Roles Roles in Unfocused Encounters Elementary Principles on Role Dynamics in Encounters Normatization in Focused Encounters Categorizing Persons and the Situation Keying and Re-keying Frames Forms of Talk and Non-verbal Communication Rituals in Encounters Emotions and Feelings in Encounters Normatizing in Unfocused Encounters Elementary Principles on Cultural Dynamics in Encounters Transactional Needs in Focused Encounters Needs to Verify Identities Dynamic Relations Among Identities Needs to Realize Profits in Exchange Payoffs Needs for Group Inclusion Needs for Trust Needs for Facticity Transactional Needs in Unfocused Encounters Trust in Unfocused Encounters Facticity in Unfocused Encounters Group Inclusion in Unfocused Encounters Exchange Payoffs in Unfocused Encounters Verification of Identities in Unfocused Encounters The Nature of Human Emotions Expanding the Emotional Palate The Defense of Self The Language of Emotions Emotional Dynamics in Focused Encounters Basic Conditions of Emotional Arousal The Effects of Attributions on Emotional Arousal Embedding and Emotional Arousal Emotional Arousal in Focused Encounters Emotional Dynamics in Unfocused Encounters Elementary Principles on Emotional Dynamics in Encounters Commitments to Meso- and Macro-level Social Units Reproduction Dynamics in Encounters Transformational Dynamics in Encounters Principles Microdynamic Reproduction and Transformation The Principles of the Microdynamic Realm Basic Properties and Dynamics in Encounters The Embedding of Encounters The Ecology and Demography of Encounters Status Dynamics in Encounters Role Dynamics in Encounters Normatizing Dynamics in Encounters Transactional-Need Dynamics in Encounters Emotional Dynamics in Encounters Increasing clarity of expectation in encounters Increasing clarity of expectations in encounters Without knowledge of society, the social world would look like an ant or bee colony.
There would be busy movements through physical space, rapid movements in vehicles, movements in and out of physical structures punctuated by periodic gatherings animated talk or even louder talk into strange devices held to an ear. We might be impressed by the fact that people avoided each other in crowded places; and we would be equally impressed by the animated talk among individuals when standing or sitting face-to-face; and we would become increasingly curious as to why people talked into devices pushed to their ears, only to pull them down and begin massaging them with opposed thumbs.
Literally, these and similar events would be all that we could see, unless we know something about the nature of social structure and culture. While we could clearly understand how physical structures constrained the movements and assemblages of individuals in space, we would become ever-more interested in how people miraculously avoided each other in their movements and in gatherings of face-to-face engagements with others.
We might hypothesize that there were hidden structures, not easily observable, that were very much like the constraints of physical barriers imposing themselves on movements and assemblages. Much like a wall, there must be unobservable forces in play pushing on individuals, or perhaps there was some form of genetic programming in each individual that drove them to behave in such a patterned manner.
If our curiosity about all of this would not subside, we would have to invent a new field of inquiry that would increase our capacity to see these hidden structures and to learn about how they seemingly push people about, restricting their movements and organizing their assembly in physical space. We would, in essence, need to invent J. Without a theory to explain these phenomena and other phenomena, we could not understand or explain them. The social universe is really not different than the physical or biological universe; there are patterns to events, and scientific theories are what explain these patterns.
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Yet, many in sociology appear to desire — even hope — that we remain like early pre-literate peoples, impressed by the wonder of the social universe but unwilling to ask how and why observable regularizes occur. The above is obviously not possible for the simple reason that if we did not have familiarity with social structure and culture, we probably would not have the mental categories that allow us to even label human movements and assemblages in space and in buildings.
Still, the scenario makes a simple point: understanding our human world requires that we have theories to explain the forces that shape the social universe. What are these forces? How do they work? What changes their valences? Answers to these kinds of questions require science not theology. Curiously, many sociologists eschew science in the name of more secular theologies that demand a kind of blind faith that the world cannot be understood with the tools of science. The tools of science are of little use, it is often argued, because the chaos, complexity, and ever-changing nature of the social universe make formulating universal laws of human behavior, interaction, and social organization impossible.
Much of this criticism of efforts in scientific sociology, and especially in micro sociology, stems from a fundamental misunderstanding between the seeming chaos and unpredictability of the empirical world and the underlying forces that drive all of this variability.
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Theory cannot explain the unique and contextual variations of social events; rather, scientific theory attempts to understand forces inherent in the social universe. If the events are micro and revolve around people taking cognizance of, and talking to, each other, the goal of sciences is to look behind the empirical variability of these events to discover the forces that are always in play when such events unfold.
Science cannot predict the exact causal sequences in unfolding empirical events without details of previous conditions, any more than a weather forecaster or geologist can predict exactly when it will rain or when an earthquake will occur without detailed knowledge of preceding conditions. Still, science can Encounters and the Microdynamic Realm 3 explain the forces driving these events and, in this way, achieve understanding of why and how these events occur. Micro theorizing in the social realm is like macro-level theorizing because it is not about the particulars of empirical cases, but rather, it is about seeing specific empirical occurrences as manifestations of more generic processes and formations that transcend time and place and that can be explained with a relatively small set of highly abstract theoretical principles and models.
And, if we know the valences of the forces specified in a theory as well as their interaction effects, we can even begin to make predictions, although intervening processes can always throw predictions off when theorizing about processes in natural systems. Yet, the problems for sociologists on how to theorize in natural systems are not any greater than those of other scientists — from geologists to ecologists and on to biologists and physicists — when they must deal with complex naturally occurring systems.
Again, there is confusion of empirical events which are always contextual and contingent with what is generic and universal.
It is possible, however, to understand why leaves fall, but the time, place, trajectory and other properties of leaves falling to the ground are contingent on other forces — temperature, wind, aerodynamics, water, and the like. Thus, precise predictions are a difficult business when scientists, even in the most rigorous sciences, must work in natural systems where the values and interaction effects of the forces in play are not easily measured.
Sociology is much like biology and physics working in natural systems outside of the controls of the laboratory; we can make rough predictions that an event or set of events is likely to occur, but we cannot make an exact prediction. But we can explain why and how an encounter unfolds in a particular pattern; and this should be the criterion by which we judge the maturity of a science. For sociology to be a mature science, then, it must ignore the skepticism and solipsism critics. Sociologists need to turn their inquiry determining the generic and universal properties of the social universe, to the forces driving the formation and operation of these properties, and finally, to the formulation of principles that explain the dynamics of these forces.
How, then, do we get a handle on what is generic at any level of social reality and explore the forces driving this reality? My answer to this question when applied to the micro-level social universe of social interaction is threefold. We first need to see interactions among persons at the micro level as varying along continuum. Erving Goffman , , , , labeled 4 1 The Micro-level Realm of Social Reality the poles of this continuum 1 focused and 2 unfocused encounters.
People are able to navigate public places through a kind of interpersonal sonar, but in the case of humans, it is a visual process more than auditory. People see and perhaps also hear others in their zone of movement and navigate around each other, while at the same time avoiding face-to-face eye contact, thus keeping the interaction unfocused. There is still interaction because individuals are mutually aware of each other, reading the gestures provided by their respective movements and adjusting their individual lines of conduct so as to avoid eye contact. If by intent or chance eye engagement is made, the encounter begins to move toward more focus and requires more gestural communication — from a smile, nod of the head, or short auditory acknowledgement to a full stop in space followed by face-to-face talk.
And if interactants activate the camera functions on their cell phones, face engagement increases the level of focus in the encounter. Thus, these mediated encounters, even though the participants may not be in physical proximity and do not see each other directly are driven by the same dynamics as all other forms of encounters.
Whether focused or unfocused, then, the notion of encounters gives us a property of the micro realm that is common to all interactions among individuals. Knowing what the phenomenon to be explained is — in this case, encounters — allows us to move to the second element of theorizing: discovering the basic forces or, if one prefers, processes that drive the operation of encounters. The empirical differences among specific encounters vary enormously, and yet encounters are driven by a small set of micro-level forces.
Hence, it should be possible to theorize about their operative dynamics and, hence, to explain all encounters. Whom I talk with today is somewhat predictable but not completely so because just how a day unfolds, like history at the macro level of reality, is contingent and often unpredictable. Still, when walking across campus and navigating around others, when I stop and say a few words to a friend or acquaintance whom I encountered by chance, Encounters and the Microdynamic Realm 5 or when I walk into a room at a scheduled time to talk with others, all of these events are encounters — varying along an unfocused-focused continuum.
They are the same basic phenomenon, and theoretical principles about the dynamic forces driving their formation can be developed. I cannot explain why I encountered this person in a public place without details of our respective schedules and other pieces of information, but I can explain what occurs once the encounter is activated. There are just a few well-known and well-understood forces operating in all encounters; and principles on these forces allow for an explanation of all encounters.
The third element that facilitates theorizing about encounters and the forces driving their operation is embedding. Encounters are almost always lodged within meso-level structures and culture — that is, what I term corporate and categoric units see Fig. A corporate unit is a social structure revealing a division of labor organized to achieve goals, whereas a categoric unit is a social distinction that people make about the characteristics of persons that place individuals into distinct categories such as age, gender, ethnicity, race, religious affiliation, income and wealth.
For example, if I walk across campus, I am in a public place within a corporate unit — my university — and as I walk, I am very aware of the cultural expectations on me in my position as a professor in the division of labor of the university, and I am very aware of my categoric unit membership in this context as an older male especially when young skate borders wiz by. What transpires in any encounter as I walk is partially explained by the culture and structure of the meso-level structure — that is, the university and the categories of gender, age, and perhaps ethnicity of individuals in this mesostructure.
Embedding does not end at the meso level, however. Corporate units are typically embedded into what I term institutional domains e. Thus, even though I may not be consciously thinking about education as an institutional domain, my behaviors will certainly reflect the expectations of me as a professor in a university within the domain of education; my actions will also be constrained, perhaps to a lesser degree in this situation, by my social class position within the stratification system of American society, including its gendered and ethnic dimensions.
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The explanation will come from the forces on the left that, as the arrow is intended to suggest, drive the formation and operation of the encounter, but this explanation will also need to include the effects of embedding of any encounter in corporate and categoric units and, by extension, institutional domains and stratification systems and, by further extension, societal and inter-societal systems. The degree of embedding along with the structure and culture of the units in which embedding occurs will have, as we will come to see, large effects on the valences and interactions among the micro-level forces that explain encounters.
Embedding constrains what occurs in the encounter by imposing the structure and culture of more inclusive social units, which individuals then draw upon to construct lines of conduct in encounters Corporate units: Any ongoing structure that reveals a division of labor oriented to achieving goals, no matter how vague or ill-defined these goals may be. Virtually, all encounters occur within corporate units Categoric units: Any distinction of difference among persons that places them in a social category that carries an evaluation and set of expectations for how people in this category should respond The forces listed at the bottom left of Fig.
Granted, visualizing well-known micro processes as forces requires a modest a mind shift, but it is not necessary to buy into my emphasis on forces. One can also employ a label like processes, if this is more familiar and easier. Still, from my perspective, these are forces because they drive the formation, operation, and transformation of the explicandum — encounters.
Just like gravity in physics or natural selection in biology, the structure and operation of encounters is shaped by these forces. Gravity is part of the explanation of why galaxies and solar systems form; natural selection is one part of the explanation of speciation. And similarly, the forces listed in Fig.
I think that we can do the same thing in sociology, and in fact, the familiarity of the forces listed in the figure and the cumulative body of knowledge on these forces would suggest that we have already done so. We can, then, explain the micro universe of encounters by highly abstract and elementary principles on a small set of microdynamic forces. Embedding emphasizes that what transpires in encounters is constrained by meso and macro structures and their cultures.
Most of the time, meso and macro sociocultural formations have larger effects on any given encounter than the latter has on the structure and culture of meso and macro structures. Social reality reveals, then, this top down bias; this conclusion is not a theoretical bias that I have but, rather, a recognition of the reality of the micro social order. However, it is also clear from the arrows pointing upward toward meso and macro structures that encounters have effects on the very structures in which they are embedded.
Indeed, from a sociological perspective, encounters are the basic building blocks of all sociocultural formations. Thus, particular valences and combinations of forces — say, high valences for negative emotions — in encounters can, over time, have effects on the structure and culture of meso structures and, even further, on macro structures and culture. For example, if workers in particular types of corporate units remain unhappy, they may organize into another type corporate unit, such as a union or a social movement organization, to change the terms of their embeddedness.
To take another example, members of a particular categoric unit, such as one built upon race and ethnicity, may become sufficiently angry at their level of day-to-day treatment by others in encounters that they organize to change the stratification system and the institutional domains that have discriminated against them.
Without shifting valences in the forces driving the micro realm, societies would not change as much as they do. Moreover, because encounters are embedded, changes in iterated encounters can often have cascading effects as they alter the divisions of labor in corporate units or the beliefs legitimating the definitions placing individuals into categoric units; and if these changes of the meso realm are large, then the dynamics of encounters can explain changes in institutional domains and stratification systems and, potentially, in societal structures and culture and, perhaps, even in inter-societal systems as well.
It is critical, then, that the theoretical principles address the dynamics of embeddedness and the conditions under which the dynamics of encounters can alter meso and macro structures and cultures — as will be explored in Chap. Too often agency is equated, at least implicitly, with free will and unpredictability of human behavior; for me, agency is endemic to being human and to the modes by which humans forge social relations in encounters.
Meso and macro structures can hinder or facilitate the agency of individuals in iterated encounters, and thus we need to understand what properties and dynamics of encounters increase the potential for changegenerating agency. While it is not necessary to read Vol. The fact of embedding of encounters in mesostructures that, in turn, are embedded in macrostructures requires that we have some idea of the dynamics of the sociocultural formations in which encounters are nested.
I will outline the basic properties of these mesostructures and cultures in the next chapter, but my goal across the three volumes of Theoretical Principles of Sociology is to develop principles that offer a unified vision for the dynamics of the social universe at the micro, meso, and macro realms. Why, then, have I not written the volume on mesodynamics before this volume on micro-level social reality?
The answer is, as Fig. The meso realm of social reality stands between the macro and micro realms, and the two sets of forces from these realms push on individual and collective actors as they forge corporate and categoric units. True, an organization revels some dynamics of its own, as do categoric units, but these are derivative of pressures emanating from macro and micro forces, as I will attempt to show in Vol.
Corporate units are created as actors respond to the forces of the macro and micro realms, and traits marking differences and placing people into categoric units are also the outcome of forces from the macro and micro realms. Thus, as we will come to appreciate, the principles of the meso-level realm are about the outcomes of particular valences and configurations of micro and macro forces as they lead to the formation and drive the operation of corporate and categoric units.
A force is any property of the social universe — or any other domain of the biophysical universe — that drives the formation of 10 1 The Micro-level Realm of Social Reality reality. Whether gravity or the forces examined in physics, mutation and selection in biology, or roles and status in the sociology, these properties of various realms of the universe drive the formation and operation of various types and levels of reality.
As noted earlier, these forces can be considered to be processes that push on individuals and channel their responses in ways that give all encounters their structure and form. While the empirical variability can be quite wide, the underlying form, structure, and operation of encounters are much the same across all types of empirical situations. Theories are not about empirical variations but, rather, about variations in the valences of the forces and their interaction effects that drive all social encounters — both focused and unfocused. The first task, then, is to outline the forces that are in play when encounters are activated by the behaviors of individuals.
On the contrary, they are processes that micro sociology has studied for a long time. Thus, since sociologists have known about these forces for many decades, a theory on their dynamics involves selecting key ideas from large literatures and established theoretical-research traditions and then integrating these into a series of elementary principles. All encounters, even those that are mediated by communication technologies, occur in physical space.
This space is typically configured in some way so that the movements of persons are constrained. Moreover, there are almost always props — e. Erving Goffman , was the first sociologist to recognize fully the significance of the configuration of space and the props in space for structuring the flow of interaction in focused and unfocused encounters.
At a brute physical level, the ecology of a situation simply imposes itself on individuals by its shear physicality. For example, when a lecturer abandons the podium to walk among students in the audience, this movement is constrained and channeled by the walls and rows of chairs in the room; and equally important, this very movement coupled with the abandonment of the podium as a prop communicate meanings about the nature and style of instruction offered by the lecturer to students who, reciprocally, use these meanings to adjust their behaviors toward the lecturer.
Most of these properties are imposed by embedding in mesolevel corporate units, while the manner in which this ecology is used to communicate meanings is constrained by other microdynamic forces — that is, demography, status, roles, culture, transactional motives, and emotions. As a general rule, the more these other microdynamic forces are in play and the higher are their valences, the more likely is the ecology of the encounter to be actively manipulated.
Again, these relationships between ecology and other forces can be theorized, as we will come to see. Demographic Forces. There are at least four dimensions of demography that always drive the formation of encounters. One is the number of individuals co-present. Another is the density of individuals who are co-present. The third is the distribution of individuals across categoric units.
And, the fourth is the movement or migration of individuals in and out of encounters. These dimensions all interact with ecological forces in encounters, since the number of people co-present, their density, and their movements are, to a great extent, constrained by the size of the space and its organization which, in turn, are determined by the corporate units within which encounters are embedded.
Similarly, the distribution of individuals in categoric units is also determined by ecology, particularly as it is constrained by embedding in corporate units. Secondly, the division of labor will also determine the location in space of members of categoric units and their opportunities to form encounters. Let me examine these dimensions in more detail below. But even here, the focus is only on one person or a small set of individuals who are speaking, and even as questions are entertained from the audience, the focus merely shifts to another person.
The assembled individuals as a whole cannot interact with each other directly, thus changing the dynamics of the encounter from what would be the case with smaller numbers of person who can face each other. Dynamic Forces of the Micro Realm 13 Often larger encounters divide into smaller sub-encounters where people can interact face-to-face, as long as the ecology of the situation allows or even facilitates this differentiation into separate encounters.
For example, a dinner party at a long table will differentiate into a series separate encounters of people in proximity to each other, or a reception in a large room will reveal gatherings will break down into more focused encounters scattered about the room. Moreover, the nature of the corporate and categoric units in which the encounter is embedded will constrain the operation of all other microdynamic forces, which in turn will determine how individuals behave. For instance, as a larger dinner party breaks into sub-encounters, the relative status of guests and hosts, the roles to be played by each, the cultural norms pertinent to such engagements, the motives of individuals, and the emotions aroused will all channel behaviors in the encounter; and if differentially evaluated members of categoric units must interact or if the converse is true and individuals are all of the same categoric unit, the expectations and evaluations of people in these categoric units will drive the actions of individuals.
When density is high, individuals are more aware of others around them. If the encounter is to remain unfocused, individuals will work especially hard to sustain a lack of direct face engagement. For instance, people standing in line may avert their eyes to avoid focus, although in American culture at least some focusing of the encounter will often occur by those in proximate space.
If people are densely packed as they move, they will also seek to avoid focus as they pass one another, but they will also be ready to use prepackaged rituals to manage situations where density leads to contact, such as bumping into someone. Density is also determined by the structure and culture of the corporate units that, to a degree, will delimit how individuals cope with density. For example, high density among workers in a company within a large meeting-space in a building will respond to density differently than if they were in a much larger corporate unit such as a community where they must cope with density in public gathering places.
As density increases under ecological constraints, people are able to observe each other, face-to-face, and this mutual engagement 14 1 The Micro-level Realm of Social Reality focuses the encounter and activates social control process revolving around mutual monitoring and sanctioning Hechter ; Collins For example, a board meeting in a room immediately leads to monitoring of others to be sure that they behave appropriately in terms of appropriate cultural expectations, appropriate motive states, status considerations, and roles that can be made.
Social control thus increases with density, with the result that the flow of an encounter will be much more predictable. Even unfocused encounters involve considerable social control as individuals try to avoid face contact, move in normatively acceptable ways, present self in a nonthreatening manner, and remain at-the-ready to ritually apologize for breaches brought upon them by density or mistakes in navigation.
When encounters involve interaction among members of different categoric units, the expectations on members in each type of unit will be somewhat different, as will their evaluations of each other. For instance, an encounter of all males will flow very differently than one of mixed genders, although embedding can increase or decrease the salience of expectations for these two categoric units. If, for example, men and women are equally distributed in positions of authority in the corporate unit and if norms about gender neutrality prevail, the salience of expectations and differential evaluations of males and females outside the corporate unit will be less than would be the case when the structure and culture of the unit distribute men and women to different positions of authority and when the culture of the organization differentially evaluates men and women.
Unfocused encounters can also be very much influenced by the distribution of memberships in categoric units. When, for instance, members of valued and de-valued categoric units must move in dense public spaces, these movements will often exhibit more pronounced, if not somewhat exaggerated, demeanors to keep the encounter unfocused. Ritual responses are at-the-ready if needed for repairing breaches in focusing. These rituals would become even more pronounced if the encounter suddenly shifts to a focused mode, as would occur if individuals could not navigate space successfully.
If the encounter is set off in physical space, as is the case when people are in a closed room or a corner of public space, movement in and out becomes more difficult, or if it must occur, it is highly ritualized Dynamic Forces of the Micro Realm 15 with appropriate demeanor such as apologies that explain the movement. Even in public places, movement of individuals around props is constrained by how they are to be used to communicate meanings to others, and if movement of others into the ego-centric space of another or several others, it must be highly ritualized.
For example, a person comes to a bench where another is sitting must typically ask if it is acceptable to sit in what had been the ecological preserve of another. Movements can thus force focus, which in turn changes the encounter. Other movements then determine how long this focus will remain. Thus, if the person on the bench moves to one end, turns face and body away, becomes absorbed in an activity e. Status Forces in the Microdynamic Realm Individuals occupy positions in corporate and categoric units.
Corporate units reveal divisions of labor among positions, and incumbency in positions, per se, will influence the behaviors of individuals. Moreover, the structure among positions along several dimensions, such as the network properties of positions and the degree of hierarchical ordering of positions in terms of authority or the range of horizontally organized positions, will also determined how individuals behave in encounters.
As I briefly mentioned earlier, categoric units are defined by what Peter Blau , has termed parameters which can be either nominal or graduated. A nominal parameter is one where a person is either in or out of a discrete category denoted by the parameter, such as sex and gender, ethnicity and race, and religious affiliation. Graduated parameters rank individuals along a scale revealing differences such as years of education, income, wealth, power and authority, and age.
In actual practice, however, individuals tend to convert graduated parameters into nominal parameters such as: a old, young, middle age, and even finer distinctions; b rich, poor, and middle class; or c college or high school degree, post graduate education. Status is typically bestowed by membership in corporate and categoric units. This fact constrains how status forces operate and delimits the range of possible behaviors in encounters which, in turn, makes theorizing about the dynamics of status that much easier. Indeed, sociology has a large set of findings about the dynamics of status, and so we do not lack for materials on how to explore and explain the dynamics of status in the micro universe.
Moreover, other microdynamic forces, such as roles, motive-states, culture and emotional arousal, are very much constrained by status forces, although there are often mutual effects between status and these other forces. Even though status as a force is tied to meso-level structures and their cultures, status differences will almost always emerge when individuals interact Berger , ; Berger and Conner ; Berger and Zelditch , ; Berger et al.
Some will be seen as more competent than others in whatever individuals are doing and, as a result, will be given more deference and power to influence what occurs in an encounter; and if there are differences among individuals, they may be consigned to categoric units. Alternatively, categoric units from the meso realm may be invoked to explain differences in abilities to carry out activities in encounters. Status differences and the forces that they set into motion are not simply a byproduct of the meso realm; they operate independently as a force in the micro realm when encounters are not embedded.
Furthermore, even when an encounter is embedded, what transpires in the encounter can change the relative status of individuals and, potentially, the status structure and culture of the meso units in which the encounter is embedded. Role Forces in the Microdynamic Realm Roles are configurations of gestures that signal to others the intentions, motives, and likely lines of behavior by a person.
There is a phenomenological and cultural element to all roles. At the cultural level, there are almost always sets of expectations about how individuals should play roles in a situation. Some of these expectations are attached to status, as is the case with the expectations for behavior of individuals incumbent in particular positions within corporate units and as is also the requirement for members of categoric units. There can be higher-order expectations contained in the beliefs and ideologies of what is proper behavior within an institutional domain or a particular class within the stratification system.
There are even more highly generalized expectations in value-premises and the meta-ideologies or combinations of ideologies from different institutional domains in a society. But, these expectations are rarely straight-jackets; individuals typically have some latitude in how they execute a role, as long as the configuration and syndrome of gestures allow others to role-take effectively and as long as role behaviors meet the expectations inherent in cultural and status forces.
As we will see in Chap. It is when this process breaks down — whether from the failure to make a role or discover the role of others through roletaking — that the importance of role as a microdynamic force becomes evident. While roles are constrained by meso-level structures, which provide the sets of expectations that guide behaviors in encounters, they can also operate independently of embedding.
Embedding will increase the likelihood that individuals will role-make and role-take successfully because the structure and culture of meso-level units delimits the range of options for playing roles and thus enables individuals to know which roles to present and which gestures to use to mark this role. Roles are also a critical force in unfocused encounters because just how a person navigates space and avoids face engagement is also guided by syndromes of gestures marking roles for appropriate behaviors in public places.
Other forces have large effects on behaviors marking an underlying role. Expectations for what ecological space and props mean will influence which roles persons can select and how these roles can be played. The 18 1 The Micro-level Realm of Social Reality number, density, movements, and categories of individuals in an encounter will also determine what roles are available and how they can be played out in an encounter.
As mentioned above, status and cultural forces always constrain expectations for who can play what role in what manner. Motive states, or what I term transactional needs Turner , determine which roles individuals will seek to play, and how they play them. Cultural Forces of the Microdynamic Realm Culture is organized at different levels of generality and along different dimensions, but in all encounters it constrains how individuals in encounters behave.
The symbol systems that constrain encounters can filter down from the macro-level of social reality through the meso level and, then at the micro level, push individuals to behave in certain ways.
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There are, however, clear patterns of control exerted by culture on interactions. At the level of the encounter, culture establishes expectations for individuals to engage in particular lines of conduct. I have taken to calling these dynamics the process of normatizing the encounter Turner , , a. The dynamics of encounters are thus driven by expectations that are imposed by meso-level structures and their cultures, or assembled on the ground as individuals respond to each other in encounters. Let me briefly outline what each of these axes entails.
Categorizing involves the process of, first of all, placing individuals into categoric units and, then, becoming cognizant of the evaluations and expectations for members in such units. At times, categoric unit membership is highly salient, while at other times, membership in such units is less important; and so, individuals must also determine if expectations for categoric members are relevant and to be invoked, or not. A second dimension of categorization is establishing expectations for the relative amounts of Dynamic Forces of the Micro Realm 19 work-practical, ceremonial, and social content, and then assembling the appropriate expectations Goffman ; Collins Before an encounter can proceed, these axes of categorization must be established, because if expectations are not clear along these lines, then breaches to the flow of interaction become likely.
Framing is the process of developing expectations for what is to be included and excluded for the purposes of the interaction. Frames are cognitive schemes that array those elements of the social world to be assembled during the course of interaction Goffman Categorizing helps in this keying of frames, but individuals will still need to engage in interpersonal work to establish expectations for which generalized symbolic media of discourse are appropriate, which values and ideologies are relevant, which persons are to be included, which portions of bodies and biographies are relevant, which stages and props in ecological space that can be used, and which categoric or corporate units and their respective cultures are to be invoked as a point of reference.
I obviously borrow the notion of framing from Erving Goffman , but I do not make distinctions between primary and natural frames, nor do I pursue his rather extensive inquiry into the phenomenology of experience. Rather, frames are, as the name implies, like picture frames that impose boundaries on expectations for what is to be inside and what must remain outside the frame. Yet, as Goffman notes some keying and re-keying of the frame — that is, altering the boundaries and scope of the frame — typically occurs during the flow of interactions; such keying dynamics are typically done through highly ritualized communication see below.
Communicating is the process of developing expectations for the forms of talk to be used, the types of generalized symbolic media that can be employed in communications, and the nature of appropriate non-verbal cues that can be used in communication during the course of the interaction. Categorizing and framing greatly facilitate this process, but as categories and frames change, so will expectations for how to communicate. For example, when a professor and a student talk in an encounter, the form of talk will be more formal, the symbolic medium will revolve around issues of learning, the use of body language will reflect the work-practical nature of the conversation, and the categorization of student and professors as personages i.
Ritualizing is the process of understanding which stereotypical sequences of gestures are to be employed in opening, closing, forming the flow of communication , symbolizing the encounter as an object or totem worthy of attention , and repairing breaches to the encounter. As Goffman was the first to fully recognize and conceptualize, all interactions involve the activation of rituals that open and set the tone for the ensuing encounter, that structure the flow of talk and body language, that repair breaches to the smooth flow of interaction, that mark the participants and their interaction with symbols, and that close the encounter and establish expectations for the next iteration of the encounter.
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Without rituals, it is difficult to know when the encounter begins and ends, or how to shift from one topic to another. Feelings are always regulated by norms; and thus, any encounter develops expectations for what feelings individuals should experience and what feelings they can appropriately express during the course of interaction. Moreover, the intensity of the emotions is also regulated by the normatizing efforts of individuals in an encounter.
As Arlie Hochschild , first conceptualized, encounters are directed by feeling ideologies or generalized moral beliefs about what should be felt and expressed in a general context ; and these ideologies, in turn, constrain the kinds of feeling rules and display rules that can be invoked in the situation. These rules establish what people should experience and what specific feelings they can safely display in a situation. Yet, as the encounter ensues, adjustments to feeling and display rules often occur, as categories and frames are readjusted.
For instance, if categorization shifts to persons being seen as intimates and to new frames allowing more personal topics of Dynamic Forces of the Micro Realm 21 conversations, individuals will be given latitude to experience and display to others more personal feelings. All of these elements of the normatizing process — categorization, framing, communicating, ritualizing, and feeling — establish expectations for individuals. They are, to a high degree, constructed during the course of interaction, but to an equally high degree, normatizing also pulls relevant symbols from meso- and macro-level cultures into the interaction, indicating which expectations from these cultures are to be relevant and how they are to be assembled during the course of interaction.
Embedding obviously facilitates this process by plugging individuals into the culture of the relevant corporate and categoric units. Similarly, other microdynamic forces also push on normatizing efforts as individuals seek to establish expectations that allow status, role, motivational, ecological, demographic and emotional forces to direct individuals to behave in normatively correct or at least acceptable ways. Motivational Forces in the Microdynamic Realm The concept of motives remain vaguely conceptualized in the social sciences.
My definition does not resolve these problems, but it is at least simple: motivations in encounters revolve around universal need-states of individuals that drive them to behave in particular ways. As I noted earlier, I term these need-states as transactional forces because they are always present when individuals engage in interpersonal transactions; and the more focused the encounter, the more likely will all five of these needs be activated.
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