Someone at work made a statement to me and I did not know how to respond to it. Could someone please elaborate on this statement a little more? Briefly, what is the best way for me to respond to this type of statement?
(This is the statement that was made to me at my job by a co-worker)
"We all hold different statuses among society. Within these statuses we have certain social roles that are expected of us. We form groups to assist our social interactions. These groups can be small and intimate like the primary groups. On the other hand, these groups can be formal and large like the secondary groups. Regardless of the situation, these elements of the social structure guide us through our social interactions and determine how successful we are in society".
I'm not sure I would have had an immediate response to this from a co-worker. I do know a bit about what the person is saying, however.
I know you're not looking for citations, but since I have been reading and writing about social construction and identity formation, I'll provide the citations and you can follow up if you wish.
First, regarding status in society. Social construction theory explains how individuals form groups for survival. Imagine two people who did not speak the same language alone on a deserted island. They would have to find a way to communicate and share their knowledge about performing tasks. If I know how to cook the meal and you know how to go kill it or gather it, we'll make a great team. (Really, you could just run to the grocery store!) If you can picture that very simple grouping of two people, then you can imagine adding more and more individuals and forming a larger group. The division of labor is necessary for survival. Eventually, groups of people develop a "symbolic universe" that encompasses our meanings, language, and knowledge. We will both agree to call the long, yellow fruit a banana. The woman who cared for us when we were children is mother. The symbols are the words that represent things or concepts. The meanings are what we understand about things or concepts. We may both agree that "mother" is the woman who raised us. Maybe mom was mean to you and nice to me. The word "mother" carries the meaning we agree on, but also our own personal meanings.
All of this discussion of society comes from social construction theory, specifically The Social Construction of Reality (Berger & Luckmann, 1967). So that explains the essentials of how people group together out of necessity, but it doesn't explain how they organize. Two theorists come to my mind because I cite them extensively in my own work. First is Michel Foucault, a French political scientist who is known for his theories on power. In his book Discipline and Punishment (Foucault, 1995), Foucault says that the body is the physical manifestation of the soul. When one person controls another person's body, a power relationship is formed. The book to which I refer is about prisons specifically, but Foucault extrapolates from the discussion of prisons the idea of institutions.
We have institutions everywhere in society. They are any organized group with rules and traditions. Society gives a certain amount of power ...
The solution provides insight and advise in tackling the topic of social group membership and social interaction in relation to roles, status, class and social success (see above for full statement).