Social Structure & Interaction

For this activity, I'd like you to demonstrate your understanding of specific principles of social psychology and symbolic interaction by returning to the Lecture Notes/Powerpoint for this section, clicking (again) on the Jane Elliot video clip on the first page, and describing in a few sentences (each) how the clip illustrates the following concepts. Just Google "Jane Elliot, A Class Divided".

Social Status
In-Groups and Out-Groups
Social Institutions

Social Status denotes your position in the overall web of society as well in each particular social institution that you are a member of.

Jane Elliot took advantage of the naturally ascribed status of eye color and gave it additional meaning. The children most likely had statuses before this experiment started, but the eye color became a master status that overrode all other statuses that they might claim.

Roles are the way in which we fulfil our various statuses. Once we understand our roles, and accept them, then we have a guide as to how we should act.

In itself, the status of eye color has little meaning to grade-school children (as evidenced by the fact that social institutions do not normally grow up around this status), but once Elliot defined the roles of each status, the children responded accordingly and able to figure out how they were 'supposed' to act. I think this shows the importance of a society (especially for children) that properly socializes its members.

In-Groups and Out-Groups describe the relationship between a group that we belong to and other groups with differing norms, statuses, values, etc.

The feelings that each eye color group had towards the other was that of an out-group. The difference between how that manifested in their actions was how each group percieved the worth of their status. The privilleged group looked down on the other group - and ascribed them negative attributes. The un-privilleged group also looked down on themselves, accepting and acting out the negative attributes that were assigned to them.

Social Institutions are the basic way in which we orgianize ourselves into groups based around a common need, goal, interest, status or role.

Before the experiment, the children belonged to the unified institution of their classroom. Once the experiment went underway, they divided into two separate groups, but I think that they were all still in the same social institution, just a vastly different one than before.

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