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Microsociology is one of the main levels of analysis (or focuses) of
sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the scie ...
, concerning the nature of everyday human
social interaction In social science Social science is the branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botan ...
s and
agency Agency may refer to: * a governmental or other institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington, are "stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior". Institutions can refer to mechanisms which govern the behavior Behavior (Am ...
on a small scale: face to face.Smelser, Neil J. 1997. ''Problematics of Sociology.''. Microsociology is based on interpretative analysis rather than statistical or empirical observation,Goffman, Erving. 1972. ''Relations in Public.'' and shares close association with the philosophy of
phenomenology Phenomenology may refer to: * Empirical research, when used to describe measurement methods in some sciences * An empirical relationship or phenomenological model * Phenomenology (architecture), based on the experience of building materials and the ...
. Methods include
symbolic interactionism Symbolic interactionism is a sociological Sociology is the study of society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial ...
and
ethnomethodology Ethnomethodology is the study of how social order is produced in and through processes of social interaction.Garfinkel, H. (1974) 'The origins of the term ethnomethodology', in R.Turner (Ed.) Ethnomethodology, Penguin, Harmondsworth, pp 15–18. I ...
; ethnomethodology in particular has led to many academic sub-divisions and studies such as micro-
linguistic Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing ...

linguistic
al research and other related aspects of human social behaviour.
Macrosociology Macrosociology is a large-scale approach to sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among in ...
, by contrast, concerns the
social structure In the social sciences, social structure is the patterned social arrangements in society that are both emergence, emergent from and determinant of the Structure and agency, actions of individuals. Likewise, society is believed to be grouped int ...
and broader systems.


Theory

Microsociology exists both as an umbrella term for perspectives which focus on agency, such as
Max Weber Maximilian Karl Emil Weber (; ; 21 April 186414 June 1920) was a German Sociology, sociologist, historian, jurist, and political economy, political economist regarded as among the most important theorists of the development of Modernity, modern ...

Max Weber
's theory of
social action In sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those societies. The t ...
, and as a body of distinct techniques, particularly in American sociology. The term was conceived by
Georges Gurvitch Georges Gurvitch (russian: Гео́ргий Дави́дович Гу́рвич; October 20, 1894, Novorossiysk – December 12, 1965, Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, m ...
in 1939, borrowing the term from the micro-physics and referring to the irreducible and unstable nature of everyday forms of sociality. It also provided an extra dimension between the studies of
social psychology Social psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the universe."... modern scienc ...

social psychology
, sociology, and
social anthropology Social anthropology is the study of patterns of behaviour in human societies and cultures. It is the dominant constituent of anthropology Anthropology is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous a ...
—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 is the level of social value a person is considered to hold. More specifically, it refers to the relative level of respect, honour Honour (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English langu ...
and
social role A role (also rôle or social role) is a set of connected behavior Behavior (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the Eng ...
s are the most important components of social structure. Microsociology forms an important perspective in many fields of study, including modern
psychosocial The psychosocial approach looks at individuals in the context of the combined influence that psychological factors and the surrounding social environment have on their physical and mental wellness and their ability to function. This approach is u ...
studies, conversational analysis and human-computer interaction. Microsociology continues to have a profound influence on research in all human fields, often under other names.


Competing frames of reference

Some have considered that
face-to-face interaction In sociology, linguistics, media studies and communication studies, face-to-face interaction (less often, face-to-face communication or face-to-face discourse) is social interaction carried out without any mediated communication, mediating technolog ...
can be studied in at least three distinct (if overlapping) ways:
psychology Psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...

psychology
;
intersubjectivity In philosophy, psychology, sociology, and anthropology, intersubjectivity is the Relations (philosophy), relation or intersection between people's Perspective (cognitive), cognitive perspectives. Definition is a term coined by social scientists a ...
; and microsociology.
Erving Goffman Erving Goffman (11 June 1922 – 19 November 1982) was a Canadian-born sociologist, social psychologist Social psychology is the scientific study of how the thoughts, feelings, and behavior Behavior (American English) or beh ...
however saw a central tension between Durkheimian approaches, and those drawn from
ethology Ethology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the universe."... modern science is ...
, especially in respect of interpersonal ritual; while followers of him have seen in a Durkheimian microsociology the key to the understanding of large-scale social conflict as well.Collins, Randall. 2004. ''Interaction Ritual Chains.'' Erving Goffman's theories of social interaction challenged other sociologists to redirect their focus to the questionable aspects of social behavior. Contrary to Erving Goffman's theory,
Émile Durkheim David Émile Durkheim ( or ; 15 April 1858 – 15 November 1917) was a French sociologist. He formally established the academic discipline of sociology and, with Max Weber Maximilian Karl Emil Weber (; ; 21 April 186414 June 1920) was a Ge ...

Émile Durkheim
believed that advanced methodological principles should guide sociologists and that they should research
social fact In sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of Empirical method, empir ...
.


Influences

Sartre Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (, ; ; 21 June 1905 – 15 April 1980) was a French people, French philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary criticism, literary critic. He was one of the key ...

Sartre
, in his work on the phenomenology of social dynamics, ''
Critique of Dialectical Reason ''Critique of Dialectical Reason'' (french: Critique de la raison dialectique) is a 1960 book by the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, in which the author further develops the existentialist Marxism he first expounded in his essay ''Search for a Method ...
'', written in the late 1950s, called microsociology the only valid theory of human relations.
Jürgen Habermas Jürgen Habermas (, ; ; born 18 June 1929) is a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, e ...
and
Pierre Bourdieu Pierre Bourdieu (; 1 August 1930 – 23 January 2002) was a French sociologist and public intellectual An intellectual is a person who engages in critical thinking, research, and Human self-reflection, reflection to advance discussions of ...
are two more recent theorists who have put microsociological concepts to good use in their works. The famous psychiatrist,
R.D. Laing Rd may refer to: * An abbreviation for road Arts and entertainment * ''Real Drive'', an anime by Production I.G * RD (group), a British girl group also known as Ruff Diamondz * ''Rilindja Demokratike'', an Albanian newspaper Businesses and orga ...
, 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 minutiae of human social action is Jonathan Miller.


(Humanistic) social work

Key issues, categories and principles of the microsociology, such as human relations, face-to-face interaction, interpretive/ qualitative analysis, attachment and
empathy Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another's position. Definitions of empathy encompass a broad range of emotional s ...

empathy
, micro-level analysis,
human behavior Human behavior is the potential and expressed capacity (Energy (psychological), mentally, Physical activity, physically, and Social actions, socially) of human individuals or groups to respond to internal and external Stimulation, stimuli throu ...
, micro-community, everyday human life, human context,
microculture Microculture refers to the specialised subgroups, marked with their own languages, ethos Ethos ( or ) is a Greek word meaning "character" that is used to describe the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize a community, nation, or ideology ...
, focus on agency, have influenced and still influences today the
social work Social work is an academic discipline and practice-based profession A Profession is a disciplined group of individuals who adhere to ethical standards and who hold themselves out as, and are accepted by the public as possessing special kno ...

social work
theory and practice, having a crucial role in the emergence of humanistic social work (Petru Stefaroi),Stefaroi, Petru. 2012. "Humanistic Paradigm of Social Work or Brief Introduction in Humanistic Social Work." ''Social Work Review'' 10(1):161–74. as response to the
structural A structure is an arrangement and organization of interrelated elements in a material object or system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A sy ...

structural
and
system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its boundaries, structure and purp ...

system
ic social work, which theoretically originates from
macrosociology Macrosociology is a large-scale approach to sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among in ...
or
mesosociologyMesosociology is the study of intermediate (''meso'') social forces and social stratification, stratification such as income, Ageing, age, gender, Race (classification of human beings), race, ethnicity, social organization, organizations and geograph ...
. This is why Malcolm Payne considers microsociology a fundamental theoretical-methodological source of this
postmodern Postmodernism is an intellectual stance or mode of discourse defined by an attitude of toward what it describes as the and of , as well as opposition to certainty and the stability of . It questions or criticizes viewpoints associated with ...
and innovative orientation from the contemporary social work, especially of the humanistic social work practice.Malcolm Payne. 2011. ''Humanistic Social Work: Core Principles in Practice''. Chicago: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 9.


Research

Research begins by evaluating the social life of the individuals with the goal of showing the reciprocal relationship between events/actions and the nature of the societal context in which they occur.Scheff, Thomas J. 2007
"Microsociology"
edited by G. Ritzer. .
Empirical evidence from recorded conversations and the microsociology of emotion has proved of particular interest to students of interaction ritual.


See also

*
Generalized otherThe generalized other is a concept introduced by George Herbert Mead George Herbert Mead (February 27, 1863 – April 26, 1931) was an American philosopher, sociologist, and psychologist, primarily affiliated with the University of Chicago, whe ...
*
George Herbert Mead George Herbert Mead (February 27, 1863 – April 26, 1931) was an American philosopher, sociologist, and psychologist, primarily affiliated with the University of Chicago, where he was one of several distinguished pragmatists. He is regarded ...

George Herbert Mead
* Human ethology *
Kurt Lewin Kurt Lewin ( ; 9 September 1890 – 12 February 1947) was a German-American psychologist A psychologist is a professional A professional is a member of a profession or any person who earns a living from a specified professional activity. T ...
*
Proxemics Proxemics is the study of human use of space and the effects that population density has on behaviour, communication, and social interaction. Proxemics is one among several subcategories in the study of nonverbal communication Nonverbal communi ...

Proxemics
*
Socialization In sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phyto ...


References

{{Reflist, 40em


Further reading

* Turner, Jonathan H. ''Sociology'' Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ. 2006.


External links


Thomas Scheff, 'Microsociology'
Methods in sociology