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Social Sci LibreTexts

4: Society and Social Interaction

In sociology, social interaction is a dynamic, changing sequence of social actions between individuals or groups A social interaction is an exchange between two or more individuals and is a building block of society. Social interactions can be studied between groups of two (dyads), three (triads) or larger social groups. By interacting with one another, people design rules, institutions and systems within which they seek to live. Symbols are used to communicate the expectations of a given society to those new to it.

  • 4.0: Introduction to Society and Social Interaction
    Sociologists study how societies interact with the environment and how they use technology.
  • 4.1: Types of Societies
    Societies are classified according to their development and use of technology. For most of human history, people lived in preindustrial societies characterized by limited technology and low production of goods. After the Industrial Revolution, many societies based their economies around mechanized labor, leading to greater profits and a trend toward greater social mobility. At the turn of the new millennium, a new type of society emerged.
  • 4.2: Theoretical Perspectives on Society
    Émile Durkheim believed that as societies advance, they make the transition from mechanical to organic solidarity. For Karl Marx, society exists in terms of class conflict. With the rise of capitalism, workers become alienated from themselves and others in society. Sociologist Max Weber noted that the rationalization of society can be taken to unhealthy extremes.
  • 4.3: Social Constructions of Reality
    Society is based on the social construction of reality. How we define society influences how society actually is. Likewise, how we see other people influences their actions as well as our actions toward them. We all take on various roles throughout our lives, and our social interactions depend on what types of roles we assume, who we assume them with, and the scene where interaction takes place.

Thumbnail: Looking north up Broadway from 43d Street, New York, USA. Image used with permission (Public Domain; Jim.henderson)