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Соціология (Англ,рус перевод)

6.2.  Social Interaction


Max Weber was one of the first sociologists to stress the importance of social interaction in the study of sociology. He argued that the main goal of sociology is to explain what he called social action, a term he used to refer to anything people are conscious of doing because of other people. Weber claimed that to interpret social actions, we have to put ourselves in the positions of the people we are studying and try to understand their thoughts and motives. A social interaction involves two or more people taking one another into account. It is the interplay between the actions of these individuals. In this respect, social interaction is a central concept to understanding the nature of social life.

            There are five types of social interaction: cooperation, conflict, social exchange, coercion, and competition.

A cooperative interaction occurs when people act together to promote common interests or achieve shared goals. The members of a basketball team pass to one another, block off opponents for one another, rebound, and assist one another to achieve a common goal – winning the game. Likewise, family members cooperate to promote their interests as a family – the husband and wife both may hold jobs as well as share in household duties, and the children may help out by mowing the lawn and washing the dishes.

            In a cooperative interaction, people join forces to achieve a common goal. By contrast, people in conflict struggle with one another – for some commonly prized object or value. In most conflict relationships, only one person can gain at someone else’s expense.

Conflicts arise when people or groups have incompatible values or when the rewards or resources available to a society or its members are limited. Thus, conflict always involves an attempt to gain or use power.

The fact that conflict often leads to unhappiness and violence causes many people to view it negatively. However, conflict appears to be inevitable in human society. A stable society is not a society without conflicts, but rather one that has developed methods for resolving its conflicts by justly or brutally suppressing them temporarily.

            When people do something for each other with the express purpose of receiving a reward or return, they are involved in an exchange interaction. Most employer–employee relationships are exchange relationships. The employee does the job and is rewarded with a salary. The reward in an exchange interaction, however, need not always be material; it can also be based on emotions such as gratitude. For example, if you visit a sick friend, help someone with a heavy package at the supermarket, or help someone solve a problem, you will expect these people to feel grateful to you. Sociologist Peter Blau pointed out that exchange is the most basic form of social interaction. He believes social exchange can be observed everywhere once we are sensitized to it.

            Coercion involves the use of power that is regarded as illegitimate by those on whom it is exerted. The stronger party can impose its will on the weaker, as in the case of a parent using the threat of punishment to impose a curfew on an adolescent. Coercion rests on force or the threat of force, but usually it operates more subtly.

Competition is a form of conflict in which individuals or groups confine their conflict within agreed upon rules. Competition is a common form of interaction in the modern world – not only on the sports field but in the marketplace, education system, and political system.