Invitation to Sociology---Chapter 5



Other Chapters:
#1... #2... #4... #6... #8

CHAPTER 5
Sociological Perspective--Society in Man

GENERAL COMMENTS:

As if Chapter 4 wasn't depressing enough, in this chapter Berger is going to "deepen" the gloom a bit more. Berger asks, if society is like a "prison" then why is it that most people seem able to bear this "yoke" so easily? His answer is that society is also IN man, "society not only determines what we do, but also what we are." In other words, society provides us with our IDENTITIES. Why do we bear the yoke? Well,...:

"because most of the time we ourselves desire just that which society expects of us. We WANT to obey the rules. We WANT the parts that society has assigned to us" (92)
---"Social Location involves OUR BEING as well as OUR CONDUCT"

Berger details just HOW this happens, using three basic Concepts:
---1. Role Theory
---2. the Sociology of Knowledge
---3. Reference Group Theory

Thus, in the end, Berger is saying that in addition to being IN a Prison (Chapter 4), society is also a "PUPPET Theater" with the strings reaching inside of us.

1. ROLE THEORY
---Concept of ROLE: are the "bridges" which enable us to span "clusters" of "definitions of the situation"
---ROLE: a typified response to a typified expectation
-------"The role Provides the PATTERN according to which the individual is to act in the particular situation" (95)
---Roles do MORE than merely regulate behavior
-------But also provide us with how to FEEL and THINK
---THUS: roles are "complete sets"
---People BECOME their roles
-------roles have our "identities" attached...our "social identities"
-------"The role forms, shapes, patterns both action & actor"

What is the SIGNIFICANCE OF ROLE THEORY?

(Through it we can see that IDENTITY is SOCIALLY Bestowed, Sustained, and Transformed---process of Socialization)

---1. BESTOWED
-------process by which a child learns to be a participant member of society
-------"self" is a process of "discovery of society"
-------"taking the role of the other"
-----------"SIGNIFICANT OTHERS" (individuals)
-----------"GENERALIZED OTHER" (society)
-------THUS, identity is not a "given"...but is bestowed in acts of SOCIAL RECOGNITION
-----------"WE BECOME THAT AS WHICH WE ARE ADDRESSED"
-----------"TO BE HUMAN IS TO BE RECOGNI2ED AS HUMAN"

---2. SUSTAINED
-------we need other's recognition through roles
-------"identity comes with conduct and conduct occurs in response to a specific social situation" (101)
-------we choose our associates to sustain our interpretations
-------SOCIALLY, "human dignity is a matter of social Permission."

---3. TRANSFORMED
-------occurs through "rites of passage"
----------involves groups
----------involves repudiation of old identity and initiation into a new one

THUS: role theory is a "sociological anthropology"
---a view of man based on his existence in society

PERSONA = MASK = PERSON
---a repertoire of roles
---Self is a process ("Sociological view of Personality")
---RATHER THAN a "continuity of self" (a "given" from the beginning of one’s life)
---Berger is referring to a "social self"... not a "core or authentic self"
---there is a "discontinuity" of self
-------can change from situation to situation
----------BUT NOT a "multiple personality"
-------thus, our consciousness gets segregated too
---Thus, much of what passes for "sincerity" is a man being taken in by his own "roleact"
---MACRO (and MESO) structures will manufacture "Persons" (roles-players)
-------i.e. "Person selection"
----------"Every social structure selects those persons that it needs for its functioning and eliminates in one way or another those that do not fit"

2. SOCIOLOGY OF KNOWLEDGE
---"...IDEAS AS WELL AS MEN ARE SOCIALLY LOCATED" (110)
---Social location of ideas
-------ideas or thoughts occur from "the social context within which particular men think about particular things"
-------THUS: must trace the THOUGHT ... from the THINKER ... from his SOCIAL WORLD

---IDEOLOGY
-------thoughts or ideas which serve to legitimate a particular social situation
----------explains, justifies, sanctifies
-------a systematic DISTORTION of social reality
----------NOT same as lying, deception or propaganda
----------Largely unreflective
----------"The liar, by definition, knows he is lying, the IDEOLOGIST does not" (ll2)

---WORLD-VIEW/WORLD TAKEN FOR GRANTED
-------assumed "shared" reality
-------is provided in LANGUAGE itself
----------i.e. conceptualization
----------"Society predefines for us that fundamental symbolic apparatus with which we grasp the world, order our experience and interpret our own existence"
-------our "knowledge" is also predefined for us
----------it appears selfevident because our agreement with others about it makes it selfvalidating
----------"Its proof lies in the reiterated experience of other men who take it for granted also" (117118)

3. REFERENCE GROUP THE0RY
---CONCEPTUALLY, a bridge between role theory and sociology of knowledge ---Two kinds of:
-------1. of which one is a member (membership group)
-------2. towards which one orients one's actions (anticipatory group)
----------not always the same as one's membership group
----------"a model with which we can continually compare ourselves" (118)
---our views of the world change with a change in reference groups
-------"In choosing specific people one chooses a specific world to live in" (l20)

SUMMARY: We internalize the content of socialization
---"Society not only controls our movements, but shapes our identity, our thought, and our emotions"
---"The structures of society become the structures of our own consciousness"
---In short, we "trap" ourselves, we rebuild society by collusion, by being unselfconscious about who we really are and can be