Sociological Concepts in Daily Life
The object of sociological study is the society. There are different systems in the real life of an individual, like social relations and interactions. People can feel the role of the society through connections they always enter with other people. In order to set concepts and ideas that scientists test and combine to understand people better, there are various sociological theories. They are divided into macro and micro theories depending on the number of people that they study. This paper is the description of one day in my life and the roles I have to play according to the social surroundings. The theories and concepts will help me understand my behavior and prove the importance of sociological research.
First, I will start with words of Anthony Giddens “People are sensitive to how they are seen by others” (2006, p. 142), and that describes my day. It started from the experience of impression management because I spent an hour thinking about proper clothing to wear. My personal goal was to look good enough comparing to my friends. My initial plan was to wear a casual outfit but I changed it after my friends called me and said that they would dress in a more official style. To my opinion, the two motives that usually lead me to changing my mind are the intention to increase self-esteem and the goal to be like others. I thought that if I dressed in a different style than my friends did, I would feel unprotected and inappropriate in comparison with them. The second case was during my walk through the mall. I heard one boy praise a new computer game to his friend. It was easy to see his intention to change the mind of another person . He did not mention any drawbacks of the game; he conversely spoke with high intonation and talked about each point as it was an advantage.
The second concept of sociology is interaction. People cannot live outside the community; that is why they communicate with others. With the help of social interactions people form groups and create their own rules of acting or communicating (Schott, & Marshall, 2009, p. 115). When speaking about interactions, it is important to mention the language, values and norms that people have and use in order to create a group, which is also a symbolic interactionism. For example, today, when I spoke with my friend, I used informal language and slang, and it is normal for us. Although, I cannot use slang when I write an essay for college because it is inappropriate language.
Another concept concerning interactions is the stage theory. According to Ervin Goffman, there are three stages where the individuals that belong to the team can be: the front, the back and outside (1959, p. 49). The front stage is where the performer knows that there is an audience and he strictly plays his role as an actor. The backstage is the situation when the actor knows that there is no audience and he can step out of his role without disrupting the performance. The outside is the area where the actors can meet the audience without performing. At the time when I was thinking about my future, I drew a picture of me as a news presenter. Acting on camera does not depend on your inner feelings and that is how I, as a front stage performer, could look like. In addition, I act as a backstage performer outside the house. For example, in the cinema I had to laugh silently because people who surrounded me would consider me rude. Therefore, my intention was to make people think well of me because it was important to me. Moreover, the outside area is my room, because even when my friends are with me, I still act naturally and I do not worry about what they think about me.
The important parts of a social life are institutions, the fourth sociological concept. Institutions are patterns of activity that people continuously repeat. Depending on various spheres in the life of the community, different social institutes and relations can form. For example, there is an institution of marriage and family, which specializes on the relationships in the family and different gender roles in it. My actions in the family are usual for me, but it is important to view them as a sociological concept. The way I act inside the family is the most natural. I still have to watch my language but comparing to other institutions it does not require pretending as much.
The fifth concept is the roles I played in different surroundings. For example, I met a friend who was with his company. The thing that amalgamates this company is the idea of vegetarianism. Since their lifestyles are different from mine, I had to speak using appropriate words in order not to offend their feelings. One might say that this is an example of politeness and I agree with that, but on the other hand, behaving as people expect you to eventually makes you feel uncomfortable.
The sixth sociological concept I had to deal with was emotional labor. My job requires a cheerful and positive attitude. Depending on the situation, it is hard to keep a big smile on my face if there is no emotional support. The feeling that I am always pretending makes me exhausted and vulnerable by the end of the day. Even in future, when I work at another company, this emotional labor will always follow me because their rules tell you how to act while you are working.
Another big problem exists in social life. We can notice examples of power and inequality everywhere, which is the seventh concept. Walking on the streets can bring new discoveries for someone when he\she walks downtown and it is possible to see how houses and people change according to their economic status. My friend told me about the movie he saw the previous day about Mexicans moving illegally to America to live a better life. The poor economy of their country forced them to work hard and have dangerous jobs because they needed money. I cannot imagine how hard it is for them to bear the pressure every day. Moreover, I think that people of means may have more energy and better health due to their economic status.
The last sociological concept I experienced that day was cultural inconsistency. When I walked down the street, I accidently ran into a woman who was a tourist. The woman said that she had never thought that Americans were so rude. Even though I apologized, she continued talking about how she was disappointed and how people from her country would never act that way. I understand that there is an ideal and a real culture according to Chambiss and Eglitis (2013, p. 190). I apologized and agreed with the fact that I was wrong. Despite this, the goal of the woman was to prove to me that the culture of her country was ideal as much as real.
Finally, at the end of the day I understood that it is hard to keep your identity. “I am at one and the same time pupil and teacher, offender and judge, performer and critic, chaperone and protegee, a prim, precise, old maid and a rollicking schoolgirl, a tomboy and a prude, a saint and sinner.” (Winston, 1908), and this describes the way I feel every day.
Now I understand that my place in the society is the middle because of all the interactions I have in my life. I am an individual, but still a part of the society because of the roles I play in different surroundings.
In conclusion, it is clear that people live in a community and play different roles on different stages to make a good impression or to earn money. Society forces them to wear masks and act properly. As a result, they have to deal with many sociological concepts every day. For example, the economic status affects their lifestyles so much that health, social institutes and behavior of others depend on it. The roles, social groups, interactions, stages and inequality force the community to become performers and hide their identities. We depend on what other people think of us, and it is part of human nature. People can fight this and stand apart from the crowd, but in any case, they will interact with groups and still wear masks. Despite all this, we have to keep our identities and always stay true to ourselves.