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[Ebook PDF] Inside Social Life: Readings in Sociological Psychology and Microsociology, 8th Edition
Now in its eighth edition, this best-selling reader provides an introduction to the sociological study of social psychology, interpersonal interaction, embodiment, emotion, selfhood, inequality, and the politics of everyday realities. Inside Social Life: Readings in Sociological Psychology and Microsociology presents thirty-nine selections that include both classic and contemporary theoretical work and empirical studies. Detailed introductions to each part and article identify and explain central issues, key concepts, and relationships among topics.
Sociology examines a broad and diverse range of topics. Sociologists study everything from the operation of the global social system to how people manage emotions and identities in their everyday interactions. Given this topical range, many sociologists draw a distinction between macrosociology, or the study of broad patterns of social life, and microsociology.
Macrosociological studies provide a kind of aerial view of social life. They enable us to identify the distinguishing features of the social landscape. Yet, to understand the actual social processes responsible for such patterns of social life, we need to get closer to the ground—to the actual places where every day social life is lived.
The study of everyday social processes and interactions falls within the purview of microsociology. Microsociology focuses on the daily details of how people create and sustain the social worlds they inhabit. These social worlds include preschools, classrooms, neighborhoods, hospitals, street corners, and social media sites. Microsociologists go to such places to observe and sometimes participate in the activities that occur there so that they can identify the social patterns that characterize them. Microsociologists also interview participants in depth to learn about the meanings that guide their conduct. Some even examine conversations in detail to investigate how particular social identities and situations are talked into being. In doing so, microsociologists strive to understand the processes that serve to produce and reproduce the social relationships, organizations, and systems that macrosociology studies in the abstract.
Many sociologists do not stop there but also look inside the hearts and minds of individuals who inhabit different social worlds. They examine relationships between people’s social and subjective experience—their thoughts, feelings, and private views of themselves. Sociologists share this field of study with psychologists, and it is commonly referred to as social psychology. However, sociologists and psychologists generally approach the study of interrelations between social life and individuals’ inner lives from different directions. Psychologists tend to look for the operation of universal principles of human psychology in social life, while sociologists consider the social variability of subjective experience to be more significant and informative. This difference in emphasis has led to the cumbersome expression’s sociological social psychology and psychological social psychology. But there is a more economical way of distinguishing between these two approaches. Psychologists can retain the title of social psychology if sociologists claim the title of sociological psychology as their own. This latter expression clearly refers to a psychology based on a distinctively sociological understanding of the human condition in all of its varied forms.
The concerns of microsociology and sociological psychology are not unrelated to those of macrosociology. Both types of study are essential for a comprehensive understanding of human social life. Although we, as individuals and groups, produce and reproduce the social worlds that we inhabit, we do not do so under conditions of our own choosing. Recurring patterns of interaction result in relatively stable features or structures of social life. For example, we routinely place one another into different gender, ethnic, age, and other categories, treating one another differently based on such identifications. Organized patterns of social life result in unequal distributions of resources and power among us. These distributions influence where we live and with whom we are likely to interact. Such social divisions and hierarchies or social structures influence interaction in ways that tend to lead to their perpetuation. As previously suggested, microsociology examines how we interactionally produce and reproduce the social divisions, organizations, institutions, and systems that macrosociology studies in the abstract. Microsociology and sociological psychology also address how social structures influence our social lives and subjective experiences differently. They thereby complement macrosociology and bring alive the study of human social life.
The readings collected in this volume provide an introduction to sociological psychology and microsociology. College students are often introduced to these fields of study in courses with titles such as Social Psychology or The Individual and Society. This volume is intended for them and for other readers who are interested in the inner workings of social life and how each of us influences and is influenced by it. The volume includes both statements of theoretical positions and empirical studies that draw and elaborate upon those positions.
Some of the selections included herein are classics of sociological psychology and microsociology. Others are more recent and have yet to weather the test of time. The combination of classic and more current readings is intended to give readers a sense of the intellectual roots of sociological psychology and microsociology, as well as their continuing vitality. The selections can be read in any order, although we have tried to arrange them so that they build on the ideas and empirical findings that have preceded each. In whatever order the articles may be read, our hope is that they convey an appreciation of the intricate artfulness of daily social action and the fascinating variety of human social experience.