Sociology of Everyday Life

Sociologists and philosophers have developed a number of theories to explain everyday life and other related issues such as social relations, face to face interactions, the construction and conception of social realities among others. While some sociologists believe that every day life is a stream of disorganized events, others contradict this view and propose that daily events are deliberately contracted.

This is among the many definitions of sociology of everyday life (Allan 53). The sociology of everyday life is important to the study of Sociology since it enables sociologist to understand the complexities of everyday life and the factors that determine social interactions.

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Harold Garfinkel and Erving Goffman are among major sociologists who have contributed to the study of sociology of every day life. Goffman and Garfinkel agree that there exist social rules which govern daily lives. By following these rules, people become actors. Furthermore, through daily interactions people express themselves. Therefore, Garfinkel’s and Goffman’s contributions are vital to the understanding the sociology of everyday life

Garfinkel’s and Goffman’s ideologies on the sociology of daily life have been interpreted differently by critics. However, the two sociologists agree that through social interactions, societies are made (Allan 257). Garfinkel and Goffman further agree that there exist rules which govern how people interact.

These rules are socially constructed and are the basis of establishing a well ordered society. Goffmanian school of thought postulates that social rules are useful in daily life interactions since they not only help in directing social interactions but also help people to make “social meaning and the definition of the self” (Maynard 278). In this regard, Goffmanian school of thought suggests that self identity is created through social interactions.

To explain this concept, Goffman uses heterosexuals as examples and suggest that heterosexuals can determine how people perceive them by managing how they appear in public. According to Garfinkel daily interactions are governed by preexisting rules which cannot be easily changed (Allan 83). This implies that the society is made up of rigid rules, whose adherence determines how people fit into it.

Garfinkel and Goffman acknowledge that societies cannot exist without rules. Furthermore, both Goffman and Garfinkel focus on the relationship between people and these rules. Both Garfinkel and Goffman postulate that people’s lives are governed by existing rules. This suggests that people are actors in every day life. Goffman suggest that rules enable people to conduct daily interactions. By asserting that rules are interactions enablers, Goffman elevates people above the rules.

This means that social rules exist to serve the complex and dynamic nature of human interactions needs. As such, the rules can change or be violated as human needs evolve. Goffman adds that violating the rules does not threaten social interactions but enables actors to derive new social meanings. As such, through social interactions, people portray their self-centeredness (Allan 56). Similarly, Garfinkel explains that social interactions occur within rigid social rules.

However, Garfinkel contradicts Goffman and explains that social norms do not change within the course of interaction. As such people become actors since they follow predetermined social norms. This implies that, unlike Goffman, Garfinkel elevates social rules above the actor. As such, the rules do not exist to serve the actor but to govern the way the actors conduct daily interactions (Maynard 278). Therefore, actors have to continuously learn what the society requires of them so as to maintain social order.

Both Garfinkel and Goffman assert that daily interactions are a way of expressing the self. Garfinkelian school of thought postulates that a person is made up of two major components; personality and the self. These components don’t evolve but are constructed. The self is different from the personality.

Sociology does not explain personality since the personality is not constructed socially. Rather, it is constructed psychologically. On the other hand, psychology cannot explain the self since the self is constructed socially. Therefore, self identity is constructed through the sociology of everyday life. Garfinkelian school of thought concludes that daily interactions not only help to construct but also to express the self (Allan 54).

Similarly, Goffmanian school of thought stipulates that the self is expressed through social interactions. The self is covert and the only way it can be revealed is through face-to-face interactions. Through these interactions, people give social signal which reveal personal traits. These social signals help others form notions about us (Allan 157). As such, Garfinkel and Goffman suggest that social interactions not only help in forming self identity but also expressing it.

Garfinkel and Goffman have made major contributions to sociology of everyday life, with significant effects on the wider field of sociology. The two sociologists have asserted that the society is a product of social interactions since people construct and derive meaning through face to face interactions.

Within the process of daily interactions, there exist rules which govern how people interact. As such, people become actors. Social interactions are also significant since they not only enable people to express themselves but also in contracting self identity. Despite the fact that Garfinkel and Goffman differ on some aspects, their theories have made significant contribution to sociology of everyday life.

Works Cited

Allan, Kenneth. Contemporary Social and Sociological Theory: Visualizing Social ` Words. Thousands Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press, 2010. Print.

Maynard, Douglas. “Goffman, Garfinkel, and Games.” Sociological Theory 9.2 (1991): ` 277-279. Web. 20 Oct. 2011.

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