So I started reading this week’s reading and found it to be “glerb”! After a few hours of crash course is sociology (I love you wikipedia), I think I understand the reading better now. I thought I should share this with the rest of you. So here we go!


  • Field of sociology divided into 3:
    – Micro-sociology: How individual forms identity and how s/he interacts with others. Study of individual.
    – Macro-sociology: Society is not just a bunch of people. It has something else. What is that “something else”? Study of society.
    – Meso-socilogy: Studying society and individual based on one particular criteria. Say for example, race or gender or income.
  • Sociologists were kicking and pulling each others hair before. Now they have realized that these three schools of theories are complimentary and inseparable. So they are well behaved now.
  • For our class reading, we will now focus on microsociology. It is heavily derived from phenomenology. Basic premise is how does an individual make sense of his surrounding world. Serves something as a bridge between psychology and sociology.
  • Symbolic interactionism and ethnomethodology are two key micro-theories amongst others.

Symbolic interactionism:

  • George Mead is regarded as the founder. His student Herbert Blumer coined the term “Symbolic interactionism”. Another key figure is Charles Cooley.
  • According to Blumer:
    – Chai is my favorite beverage not just because of it’s taste but it has a special meaning to me. So Blumer says, people act toward things based on the meaning those things have for them.
    – The meaning of chai for me comes from the mental image I have of my mom bringing me a nice hot cup of chai on a rainy evening. So Blumer says, these meanings are derived from social interaction.
    – So it’s not just a beverage for me but rather something that reminds me of a warm, cozy and secure feeling. So Blumer says, these meanings are modified through interpretation.
  • Erving Goffman said “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players:”. So others said “Who you calling a fake, bitch?” and smeared him all over the locker room.
  • Central themes of debate in symbolic interactionism:
    – How do people create meaning during social interaction?
    – How do they construct and present their identities?
    – How do they define their situations when someone else is present in the room?
  • Symbolic interactionists were beaten up during 1970’s and had their lunch money taken away from them because the rationalists thought their theory was bollocks.
  • The other macrosociologists also beat them up because they were unable to contribute to macro-sociology.


  • Harold Grafinkel coined the term. But now the field has changed so much that Granfinkel shifts uncomfortably in his grave.
  • Ethnomethodology for dummies: Study of social structures through which the members live and narrate their experiences.
  • Consider the following example. People are like cookie dough. Different societies are like different shapes of cookies. You have round cookies, square cookies, star cookies, etc. Sociology studies about cookies, their shapes, their size, their taste, their ingredients, etc. Ethnomethodology specifically studies about the shape of the cookie cutter i.e the structure through which the cookies are formed in the first place. It also hints that the shape of the cookie changes if you change the cookie cutter! (Duh!) I hope I am right! Atleast this is what is my understanding so far.
  • Sociologists are badgering each other regarding whether ethnomethodology is applied phenomenology or is it a branch of phenomenology. I say who gives a hoot?

So I hope this helps! Also, please feel free to correct me if my understanding is wrong. Any futher examples to help understand this would be welcome as well!