SOC10004 Sociological Foundations
Which is more important in shaping individuality – social structure or social interaction?
Referencing style: Harvard referencing style
The shaping of individual identity is developed through interaction with one another and the social structure we move in. Social structure is defined as social organisation based on established patterns of interactions and norms/shared values. Social interaction is the process by which we act, react and communicate to those around us. Whilst both are undeniably factors which affect individuality, this essay explores which is the most influential factor. Our individuality is built from a set ...view middle of the document...
Individuals start to notice similarities and differences, such as liking the same things or having the same opinions. These patterns of interaction form the social structure that guide and control us.
Socialisation is a complex, interactive process that starts from birth and continues through adulthood. It focuses on teaching us language, cognitive skills, manners, interactions, normal and values of society. It is essentially a mental check list for how to conduct ourselves and evaluate the best reaction and action to take for each situation that arises, particularly in relation to social encounters. The rules that we choose to employ in making these decisions play a crucial role in personality formation and make us unique. During this process we develop behavioural expectations, for example, we expect a teacher to be helpful and patient or a comedian to be funny and entertaining. When we do something as simple as say ‘hello’ to somebody or we wave, we naturally assume they will reciprocate our action and if they don’t we feel confused or offended. Societies can be so different yet so similar as they evolve their webs of meaning into contrasting cultures (Plummer, 2010).
The social process involves the formation of groups of people. In relation to group dynamics (Henslin) we can observe how different groups of people influence us. This begins at an early age when we start to form relationships with peers of our own age who we socialise with. For example; day-care, pre-school and local activity clubs. These activities are chosen for us by our guardians within their social structure; reinforcing what a huge influence parents have on the development of socialisation. During an observation by Blanch and Aluja (2011), of the relationships between parents their children, results showed more socialised students usually show good peer-group integration skills.
When we reach our adolescence age the social process becomes more difficult and more detailed. We become subject to a broader spectrum of personalities and begin to make more independent choices. Giddens (1991) suggests that every day choices about what to eat, what to wear, who to socialise with, are all decisions which shape our personality. During this formative, period groups are established which contain people who have things in common and were brought up on similar ideals. This can also lead to clashes as people discover different values and norms associated with other social structures. The composition of personality types within a group or population can be expected to be a key determinant...