Microsociology

Microsociology

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Microsociology is one of the main branches (or focuses) of sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

, concerning the nature of everyday human social interactions and agency
Agency (sociology)
In the social sciences, agency refers to the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. By contrast, "Structure" refers to the factors of influence that determine or limit an agent and his or her decisions...

 on a small scale. Microsociology is based on interpretative analysis rather than statistical or empirical observation, and shares close association with the philosophy of phenomenology. Methods includes symbolic interactionism
Symbolic interactionism
Symbolic Interaction, also known as interactionism, is a sociological theory that places emphasis on micro-scale social interaction to provide subjective meaning in human behavior, the social process and pragmatism.-History:...

 and ethnomethodology
Ethnomethodology
Ethnomethodology is an ethnographic approach to sociological inquiry introduced by the American sociologist Harold Garfinkel . Ethnomethodology's research interest is the study of the everyday methods people use for the production of social order...

; ethnomethodology in particular has led to many academic sub-divisions and studies such as microlinguistic
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

al research and other related aspects of human social behaviour. Macrosociology
Macrosociology
Macrosociology is an approach to the discipline which emphasizes the analysis of social systems and populations on a large scale, at the level of social structure, and often at a necessarily high level of theoretical abstraction. Microsociology, by contrast, focuses on the individual social agency...

, by contrast, concerns the social structure
Social structure
Social structure is a term used in the social sciences to refer to patterned social arrangements in society that are both emergent from and determinant of the actions of the individuals. The usage of the term "social structure" has changed over time and may reflect the various levels of analysis...

 and broader systems.

Theory


Microsociology exists both as an umbrella term for perspectives which focus on agency, such as Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

's theory of social action, and as a body of distinct techniques, particularly in American sociology. The term was conceived by Harold Garfinkel
Harold Garfinkel
Harold Garfinkel was a Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is known for establishing and developing ethnomethodology as a field of inquiry in sociology.-Biography:...

 to inquire into the methods people use to make sense of their social world. It also provided an extra dimension between the studies of social psychology
Social psychology
Social psychology is the scientific study of how people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others. By this definition, scientific refers to the empirical method of investigation. The terms thoughts, feelings, and behaviors include all...

, sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

, and social anthropology
Social anthropology
Social Anthropology is one of the four or five branches of anthropology that studies how contemporary human beings behave in social groups. Practitioners of social anthropology investigate, often through long-term, intensive field studies , the social organization of a particular person: customs,...

— focusing more on individual interaction and thinking within groups, rather than just large social group/societal behaviour. At the micro level, social status
Social status
In sociology or anthropology, social status is the honor or prestige attached to one's position in society . It may also refer to a rank or position that one holds in a group, for example son or daughter, playmate, pupil, etc....

 and social roles are the most important components of social structure
Social structure
Social structure is a term used in the social sciences to refer to patterned social arrangements in society that are both emergent from and determinant of the actions of the individuals. The usage of the term "social structure" has changed over time and may reflect the various levels of analysis...

. Microsociology forms an important perspective in many fields of study, including modern psychosocial
Psychosocial
For a concept to be psychosocial means it relates to one's psychological development in, and interaction with, a social environment. The individual needs not be fully aware of this relationship with his or her environment. It was first commonly used by psychologist Erik Erikson in his stages of...

 studies, conversational analysis and human-computer interaction. Microsociology continues to have a profound influence on research in all human fields, often under other names.

Sartre, in his work on the phenomenology of social dynamics, Critique of Dialectical Reason
Critique of Dialectical Reason
Critique of Dialectical Reason, , was the last of Jean-Paul Sartre's major philosophical works...

, written in the late 1950s, called microsociology the only valid theory of human relations.

The famous Psychiatrist, R.D. Laing, was much influenced by Garfinkel's ideas on `degradation ceremonies`. Another famous English writer/polymath who is greatly influenced by the ideas of studying the minutea of human Social action is Jonathan Miller.

See also

  • Agency
    Agency (sociology)
    In the social sciences, agency refers to the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. By contrast, "Structure" refers to the factors of influence that determine or limit an agent and his or her decisions...

  • Social interaction
  • Symbolic interactionism
    Symbolic interactionism
    Symbolic Interaction, also known as interactionism, is a sociological theory that places emphasis on micro-scale social interaction to provide subjective meaning in human behavior, the social process and pragmatism.-History:...

  • Socialization
    Socialization
    Socialization is a term used by sociologists, social psychologists, anthropologists, political scientists and educationalists to refer to the process of inheriting and disseminating norms, customs and ideologies...

  • Mesosociology
    Mesosociology
    Mesosociology deals with analyses of concepts like stratification by income, age, gender, race, ethnicity; organizations and communities...

  • Macrosociology
    Macrosociology
    Macrosociology is an approach to the discipline which emphasizes the analysis of social systems and populations on a large scale, at the level of social structure, and often at a necessarily high level of theoretical abstraction. Microsociology, by contrast, focuses on the individual social agency...