Tuesday, January 24, 2017
We just did an activity based on the real life events that were portrayed in the movie Abandon Ship! (1957). The activity helps to understand the different levels (macrosociology and microsociology) that sociologists study and the Social Construction of Reality. On the macro level, sociologists look for the large-scale groups that people are a part of. For example, students in our class are Americans, teenagers, high-schoolers, from an upper-middle class suburb. All of these groups have an effect on an individual, so that even when an individual makes choices alone, he/she is still being influenced by these groups. On the microsociological level, sociologists study how groups interact in face-to-face conversation. That is who makes eye contact, how loud people speak, where they sit, who is the leader etc...So each class that does this activity is different based on how the group interacts. This activity is a metaphor for any group that you are a part of; all of the groups that shape you are governed by both macrosociological forces and micrsociological forces. For example, see my example of high school below.
If we examined these two levels in high school, there are certain macrosociological values that one would expect to find no matter where the school is located: grades, learning, homework, rules etc... So as you move from one class to the next, you will see these macrosociological values present. On the other hand, every class is different because of the microsociological dynamics present in that class: some teachers are more casual, some teachers use rows vs. a horseshoe shape, some classes have a few loud boisterous individuals and other classes might be mostly girls or mostly guys etc...
Can you see these two levels at play in your own life? Perhaps in your family, your classes or with a group of friends, or at your job? Think about that lifeboat activity and how it is a metaphor for any of the groups that you are a part of. There are macro forces like culture and social class that affect your group but there are also micro forces at play too such as the dynamic of how the group interacts. For example, because we live in America there are certain things expected of family. Even though we had a child under 2 months of age, my wife and I were expected to be at our jobs working (as opposed to other countries where they give 6 months or more of leave for new parents). But the micro forces are present too - because my wife makes more $ than I do, I work part time and spend the rest of my time being a daddy. Can you see how this plays out with your groups?
And this activity can also be an example of the social construction of reality. All of those on the boat were shaped by how their character is viewed by the group. So rather than being seen as an individual, each person's role was viewed a certain way because that's how society has trained us to view that person - such as the elderly couple is old and frail so put them overboard.
As a side note, here is a link to the article in the Daily Herald about the students who met in my class as the football player and cheerleader. They met in my class and then asked me to marry them!