There has long been patterns in the way societies operate; this revolves around the foundations of society. With the complexity and diversity found in societies; developing statues, roles, groups, and institutions ensure the survival of society. The social groups that we as individuals, belong to, give us a status and a role to fulfill. Individuals can belong to primary or secondary groups. Primary groups are where there is an intimate interaction between people and cooperation over a period of time, while a secondary group is where individuals do not interact. “Status is our relative social position in a group or institution; while a role is the part our society expects us to play in a given status.” Individuals can be associated with an ascribed status or an achieved status. An ascribed status is status that is given to an individual involuntary, while an achieved status is a status that an individual obtains through their life. Involvement in groups and institutions give us a set of statuses and roles that allow people to know what to expect from each other.
Sociologists believe that status is a position in society. Individuals are generally influenced by only one master status when they interact with another person. With every status there is a role, this becomes the prescribed role or the expectations of what individuals should do in accordance with their particular status. The expectation of individuals having to play two conflicting roles of two different statuses at the same time causes role conflict. When people interact in accordance with their statuses and roles, a social group is formed, a collection of people who interact with one another and have a certain feeling of unity. Within these groups they act either formally or informally towards each other. “Society cannot survive without social institutions, a set of widely shared beliefs, norms, and procedures necessary for meeting the basic need of society.” Family, education, religion, economy, and politics are the most important institutions. Institutions make life easier for individuals. The diverse nature of society determines what type of status or role individuals’ receive, and what the individuals do with the status and role determines how they interact in a group or institution.
Most of our social interactions occur in patterns. Individuals are defined through society when they have a role, status, group, or institution. There can be struggles found when individuals lack the four foundations of society. “Interactions that form the 4 foundations have guidelines on how interactions are to be shaped and what the expectations become.” In order to survive society, societies have to be able to fulfill certain basic social and human needs. These needs are considered basic because if a society is not able to meet them, it runs a risk of collapsing.
A distinguishing characteristic of societies is the existence of a set of institutions. Social institutions are ways in dealing with such universal needs and are much broader in scope. The institutions consist of family, government, economy, education, and religion. Institutions all found in human groups exist and are used everywhere. “The universality indicates that they are deeply rooted in human nature and that they are essential in the development and maintenance of orders.” Institutions are social orders that control behavior in the important areas of social life. Each institution is connected to norms, values, and role expectations that people who make up society have provided to generations as a permanent solution to society’s unfinished business. “There is provided procedures through which human conduct is patterned by making the grooves deemed desirable by society, these grooves appear to the individual as the only possible ones.” Society instills in members predetermined channels for marriage. The US society expects marriage to be within a man and a woman living in a home together. Social institutions are adapt to changes and broken down into smaller components including status, roles, and groups.
Members’ of society according to their positions tend to act according to what is expected of them involving their status and role. A status is the part people are expected to play, whereas a role is the actual script expected to follow. This status defines part of an identity and how individuals interact with others. A daughter or son would be considered as a status. Statuses define relationships with the individuals people interact with. Members of society can be titled with many statuses such as ascribed status, achieved status, or master status. The status of a daughter is an ascribed status. If a person decides to get married or become a programmer, they will be taking on an achieved status. Master status has special importance for social identity, shaping a person’s entire life. When an individual gets a job, a lot can be determined about the person from that job. That job becomes their master status. Social expectations attached to any given status define a role in society. Our roles determine how individuals are expected to behave and interact based on the status we occupy. “Statuses and roles are not isolated entities, but rather related to other statuses and roles.” A student, for example, takes on the roles of attending classes and completing assignments. Many statuses involved many roles, which lead to many obligations to fulfill, causing role conflict. This can be found in the life of a working mother who takes on responsibilities through the home, while taking on a job outside of the home. It becomes important for individuals to have a status and a role because these guide our behaviors in society.
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Most interactions take place in groups. Groups whether primary or secondary, have distributions of statuses and roles, which shape the behavior and interactions of their members within specific institutional contexts. Primary groups are formed within families, friends, or peers where the relationships have strong emotional ties, whereas in secondary groups the members are less personal and emotional. Communication becomes very formal. There is only a relation over particular roles and for practical reasons, like the relationship between a stockbroker and his clients. Sociologists have found that the size of a group can determine how members behave and relate to one another. Within these groups there is group behavior through leadership and conformity. The pressure to conform within small groups is powerful.
There are many ways to define a role, a status, a group, or an institution, but each can make an individual successful and feel like they are apart of something greater. Generally, an individual’s drive is to become somebody in society. Institutions arise from the clumsy actions of many individuals; these rules evolve into a set of expectations. The consequences of the expectations provide solutions to maintaining society. Individuals must not forget that institutions can be changed although they exist to serve and be accountable to man. Without institutions, individuals are left without guide to channel their behavior through important areas of social life. Without institutions, individuals are left without a set of expectations to follow. Individuals lacking a status are not defined through relationships with the people they associate with. Master statuses are an individual’s identity; they shape their entire life. Without the goal in having a master status, individuals would not strive to succeed. Many people left without having a status or a role become very repulsive and have a continuous state of jealousy. They begin to think the world is a dangerous and scary place, pushing away those of high status and low status out of their life. Those of low status are not socially confident and lack sharp social skills. This lack of social skills causes a lack of job opportunities and group relationships. When individuals are not involved in groups, they are left without close relationships to other individuals and left without someone to relate to. They will most likely find themselves in secondary groups, where relationships often result in loneliness and isolation. Being involved in the foundations of society shapes an individual’s attitudes, actions, and opportunities. Further proving that individuals who obtain the foundations of society find success, but left without them lack the opportunities to succeed.