Similarities and Differences Between Microsociology and Macrosociology
Microsociology is one of the main points (or focuses) of sociology, concerning the nature of everyday human social interactions and agency on a small scale: face to face. Microsociology is based on interpretative analysis rather than statistical or empirical observation, and shares close association with the philosophy of Microsociology forms an important perspective. In contrast, the subject of microsociology is the individual interacting with other The macro approach to social action tends to be determined by large and can be examined empirically in sociological studies (e.g., Marx's study of . Simmel considered society to be an association of free individuals, and. Sociology is the scientific and systematic study of human groups, based on society, culture, and relationships. One of the Thus, macrosociology and microsociology are two approaches of analyzing social dynamics. Though.
This was especially true of those who developed the symbolic interaction approach including writers in the Chicago school, a tradition that dominated United States sociology in the early part of this century, before Parsons. Georg SimmelGermany was born in Berlin and received his doctorate in He was of Jewish ancestry and was marginalized within the German academic system. Only in did Simmel obtain a regular academic appointment, and this appointment was in Strasbourg, far from Berlin.
In spite of these problems, he wrote extensively on the nature of association, culture, social structure, the city, and the economy. His writings were read by Durkheim and Weber, and Simmel contributed greatly to sociology and European intellectual life in the early part of this century.
Simmel's ideas were very influential on the Marxist scholar Georg Lukacs and Simmel's writings on the city and on money are now being used by contemporary sociologists. Simmel was influenced by Hegel and Kant and developed a sociological analysis with ideas similar to the three major classical writers. When Simmel discusses social structures, the city, money, and modern society, his approach is similar to that of Durkheim individual and societyWeber rationalizationand Marx alienation.
Simmel considered society to be an association of free individuals, and argued that it could not be studied in the same way as the physical world, i. It is Simmel's attempt to integrate analysis of individual action with the structural approach that make his writings of contemporary interest.
Simmel began his inquiries from the bottom up, observing the smallest of social interactions and attempting to see how larger-scale institutions emerged from them. In doing so, he often noticed phenomena that other theorists missed. For example, Simmel observed that the number of parties to an interaction can effect its nature.
The interaction between two people, a dyad, will be very different from that which is possible in a three-party relationship, or triad. Simmel noted that the number of individuals in a group in which social action takes place affects the form of group interaction. Relationships in a two person group, what Simmel called a dyad, are relatively straightforward, in that each individual can present themselves to the other in a way that maintains their identity, and either party can end the relationship by withdrawing from it.
When a dyad changes to a triad, a three person group, the form of interaction may alter. In the triad, there may be strategies that lead to competition, alliances, or mediation. The triad is likely to develop a group structure that is independent of the individuals in it, whereas this is less likely in the dyad Ritzer, p. As group size increases even more, "the increase in the size of the group or society increases individual freedom" Ritzer, p.
The small circle of early or premodern times, firmly closed against the neighbouring strange, or in some way antagonistic circles The self-preservation of very young associations requires the establishment of strict boundaries and a centripetal unity. As the group grows in numbers and extends itself spatially, "the group's direct, inner unity loosens, and the rigidity of the original demarcation against others is softened through mutual relations and connections" Farganis, p.
This implies much greater possibility of individual freedom and flexibility, with the common culture and form of association greatly weakened. The metropolis or city becomes the location where the division of labour is the greatest and where this individuality and individual freedom is most expanded.
At the same time Simmel notes that for the individual this creates the "difficulty of asserting his own personality within the dimensions of metropolitan life" Farganis, p. The growth of the city, the increasing number of people in the city, and the "brevity and scarcity of the inter-human contacts granted to the metropolitan man, as compared to the social intercourse of the small town" Farganis, p.
Subjective culture is "the capacity of the actor to produce, absorb, and control the elements of objective culture. In an ideal sense, individual culture shapes, and is shaped by, objective culture. The problem is that objective culture comes to have a life of its own" Ritzer, p. This sounds much like Marx's alienation, Durkheim's anomie, or Weber's rationalization, although Simmel associates this with the city, rather than with the society as a whole, as do the other classical writers.
Where Simmel differs from these other classic writers, is that Simmel returns to the individual, analyzes how the individual deals with the developments of modern society, and considers how the individual personality is developed in these circumstances. Simmel notes that one way individuals assert a personality is to "be different," to adopt manners, fashions, styles, "to appear concentrated and strikingly characteristic. In these circumstances, obtaining self-esteem and having "the sense of filling a position" may be developed by seeking "the awareness of others" Farganis, p.
This means that individuals may adopt some characteristic fashions and in their personal mannerisms may try to appear "to the point. Social interaction, looking to the reaction of others, and seeking the recognition and awareness of others is an essential aspect of individual personality. In this way Simmel ties together the individual and the social, and each requires the existence of the other.
Further, the intellect and personal psyche develop in a different way in traditional and in modern society. In rural and small town settings, impressions of others are built up gradually, over time, on the basis of habit. Many of these impressions are less conscious and are built on more deeply felt and emotional relationships.
In contrast, in the city, there is sharp discontinuity, single glances, a multitude of quick impressions. Thus the metropolitan type of man — which, of course, exists in a thousand individual variants — develops an organ protecting him against the threatening currents and discrepancies of his external environment which would uproot him.
He reacts with his head instead of his heart. Intellectuality is thus seen to preserve subjective life against the overwhelming power of metropolitan life, and intellectuality branches out in many directions and is integrated with numerous discrete phenomena. Simmel concludes his essay by noting how the city influences individuals and provides the "opportunities and the stimuli for the development of Therewith these conditions gain a unique place, pregnant with inestimable meanings for the development of psychic existence" Farganis, p.
Note "allocating roles to men" rather than "men to roles" as the structural functionalist might describe this process. While Simmel is concerned with the possible negative effects of objective culture, he considers it possible for personalities to develop within these conditions. For Simmel, there is a dynamic or dialectical tension between the individual and society — individuals are free and creative spirits, yet are part of the socialization process.
Simmel was troubled by this relationship. He viewed modern society as freeing the individual from historical and traditional bonds and creating much greater individual freedom, but with individuals also experiencing a great sense of alienation within the culture of urban life.
The deepest problems of modern life derive from the claim of the individual to preserve the autonomy and individuality of his existence in the face of overwhelming social forces, of external culture, and of the technique of life. Simmel makes three assumptions about the individual and society. Ashley and Orenstein, p. Society also tries to integrate itself like Durkheim notedalthough the effect of this may be in opposition to individual integrity.
In the social world, the various forms and styles of interaction are brought into existence by people and the above assumptions are realized as individuals interact with one another. Humans possess creative consciousness and the basis of social life is "conscious individuals or groups of individuals who interact with one another for a variety of motives, purposes, and interests" Ritzer, p.
This creativity allows for flexibility and freedom on the part of the individual, and at the same time helps to create the structures of objective culture that may constrain and stifle this freedom.
That is, social interaction becomes regularized and has patterns to it, and these become forms of association. These patterns and forms, regardless of their content, is what sociologists should study. This means that society is not a separate reality of its own, but "society merely is the name for a number of individuals, connected by interaction Simmel disagreed with Durkheim that "society is a real, material entity" and did not view society as merely a collection of individuals.
Rather, he adopted the position of "society as a set of interactions" Ritzer, p. The individual in a social unit must be an entity or constituent part of the unit, and Simmel distinguishes between a personal self and a social self.
Notes on micro-sociological approaches
If there is no self-consciousness, symbolic interaction would disappear and human experience would just be the responses to stimuli. Instead, we live and die in terms of what is intersubjectively meaningful — i. An example of how Simmel examines some of these connections in a concrete connection is his discussion of fashion. Simmel notes that fashion develops in the city, "because it intensifies a multiplicity of social relations, increases the rate of social mobility and permits individuals from lower strata to become conscious of the styles and fashions of upper classes" Ashley and Orenstein, p.
In the traditional and small circle setting, fashion would have no meaning or be unnecessary. Since modern individuals tend to be detached from traditional anchors of social support, fashion allows the individual to signal or express his or her own personality or personal values. Simmel noted that fashion provides the best arena for people who lack autonomy and who need support, yet whose self-awareness nevertheless requires that they be recognized as distinct and as particular kinds of beings.
Ritzer notes that fashion can be considered to be a part of objective culture in that it allows the individual to come into conformity with norms of a group. At the same time, it expresses individuality, because the individual may differ from the norm.
Fashion is dynamic and has an historical dimension to it, with acceptance of a fashion being followed by some deviation from this fashion, change in the fashion, and perhaps ultimate abandonment of the original norm, so that a new norm is established. This is a dialectical process, with initial success, widespread acceptance, followed by eventual abandonment and failure. Leadership in a fashion means that the leader actually follows the fashion better than others.
Mavericks are those who reject the fashion, and this may become an inverse form of imitation. In summary, fashion allows personal values to be expressed at the same time as norms are followed.
The two exist together, and the one without the other would be meaningless. In all of this, social interaction is of the essence — what others think, what one thinks that others think, and how one conceives of fashion.
Simmel's major work concerns money and the social meaning of money. In The Philosophy of Money, Simmel is concerned with large social issues, and this book can be thought of as on a par with The Division of Labour of Durkheim, although not as extensive and thorough as Marx's Capital or Weber's Economy and Society. Simmel considers money as a symbol, and examines some of its effects on people and society. In modern society, money becomes an impersonal or objectified measure of value.
This implies impersonal, rational ties among people that are institutionalized in the money form. For example, relations of domination and subordination become quantitative relationships of more or less money — impersonal and measurable in a rational and calculated manner. The use of money distances individuals from objects and also provides a means of overcoming this distance. The use of money allows much greater flexibility for individuals in society — to travel greater distances and to overcome person-to-person limitations.
Simmel thus suggests that the spread of the money form gives individuals a freedom of sorts by permitting them to exercise the kind of individualized control over "impression management" that was not possible in traditional societies. Even strangers become familiar and knowable identities insofar as they are willing to use a common but impersonal means of exchange. That is, individual freedom is potentially increased, but alienation and fragmentation may occur. In some senses, Simmel's sociology is similar to that of the other classic writers, although he had less to say about social structure or its dynamics than did Marx, Weber, or Durkheim.
He discussed objective culture and his writings on money have some affinity with Weber's rationalization. His analysis of fashion, money, and the city also make his writings worthwhile reading. Philosophical and Psychological Approaches The symbolic interaction approach was first developed in the United States by social scientists who were familiar with pragmatism and behaviouralism.
Pragmatism is probably the most distinctive American school of philosophy.
Dominant in the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century, pragmatism stressed an open-ended and practical conception of truth. According to the pragmatist view, reality is not "out there" in the world, but exists only as it is actively created by individuals in the world. Several principles of pragmatist thought are as follows: All of these fatures of social life are demonstrated through the way that we use language and the manner in which we fill our various social roles.
The philosophical pragmatism of William James and John Dewey was an important influence on Mead, Blumer, and other symbolic interaction writers.
William James taught at Harvard and wrote about psychology and philosophy and attempted to develop moral and ethical principles for meaning and truth that depend on the definite difference these make to people Knapp, p. For James, consciousness is active, selective and interested, and direct experience is an especially important aspect of this.
Ideas are not absolutes, but are a way of preparing for and anticipating experiences. John Dewey was an important American writer who spent most of his academic life at Columbia University.
Dewey argued that the various types of human activity are instruments that are developed to solve the various problems faced by humans. There is no eternal truth, but rather truth is based on experience, testable by all who investigate it.
For Dewey, the human mind was not just a thing or a structure, but an active process by which the individual imagines, interprets, decides, defines, and acts in the world. Dewey attempted to work out principles for a democratic and industrial society, and was an opponent of authoritarian methods in education.
As founding president of the American Civil Liberties Union, Dewey was an important intellectual influence in American life.
Behaviourism is the psychological approach that explains animal and human behaviour in terms of observable and measurable responses to stimuli Columbia Encyclopedia, p. In this approach, mental processes are not as important as the stimulus and the response so that the observed stimuli and the observed set of behaviours should be the subject of psychological study.
The behaviourist approach was influential on interaction theory in a negative way, with the latter developing to counter the former.
- Similarities and Differences Between Microsociology and Macrosociology
While the unit of study for Mead was the act, Mead argued that there were mental processes involved in actions, processes that the behaviourists ignored. Human mental processes differed from those of non-human animals, and this meant that human behaviour had to be studied differently than non-human behaviour.
Mead's approach can be considered to be a social behaviourist approach, emphasizing social rather than biological or mental processes Ritzer, pp. This department was dominant in American sociology for years, until Parsons and Harvard University became more influential.
The Chicago school also had an impact on Canadian sociology and one of the major figures in the Chicago school Ernest Burgess was from Canada. Small also founded the American Journal of Sociology in and translated some of Simmel's essays for this journal. One of the major figures in the Chicago school was Robert Park After working as a journalist, he graduated from the University of Michigan, studied in Germany with Simmel, and obtained a doctorate at Heidelberg in He was associated with Booker T.
Washington untilwhen he joined the University of Chicago. Park published Introduction to the Science of Society, which introduced some of the major European theorists to the United States. Park looked on "the city as a giant social experiment, consisting of different worlds, neighbourhoods, and groups which are connected to each other and in conflict with each other" Knapp, p. Park told his students: Go sit in the lounges of the luxury hotels and on the doorsteps of the flophouses; sit on the Gold Coast settees and on the slum shakedowns; sit in the Orchestra Hall and in the Star and Garter Burlesk.
He emphasized communities and changes in these, how individuals were shaped by and integrated into these communities, and how people and groups formed communities. Park stressed the importance of both social research and social reform. For Park and others in the Chicago school, the city was "a social laboratory in which human nature and social processes could be examined" Shore, p.
These researchers were also concerned with the "expanding metropolis and the influence it exerts over contiguous regions" Shore, p. Another Chicago school sociologist was W. Thomasco-author of the two volumes of The Polish Peasant in Europe and America, an important empirical study of immigration and immigrant adjustment in the United States.
Thomas, along with Dorothy Swaine Thomas, noted how individuals involved in interaction define the situation as important in understanding how interaction occurs. If the individual defines situations as real, they are real in their consequences Wallace and Wolf, p. Sociological researchers must "pay attention to subject meanings or definitions" in order to understand human activity Wallace and Wolf, p.
The Thomases noted that individuals can ignore a particular stimulus or examine and deliberate concerning a situation, before taking action or not acting. Mead Mead is generally regarded as the founder of the symbolic interaction approach. George Herbert Mead was trained in social psychology and philosophy and spent most of his academic career at the University of Chicago. Mead's major work is Mind, Self and Society, a series of his essays put together after Mead's death and originally published ina work in which he emphasizes how the social world develops various mental states in an individual.
Mead looked on the "self as an acting organism, not a passive receptacle that simply receives and responds to stimuli" Wallace and Wolf, p,as Durkheim and Parsons may have thought. People are not merely media that can be put into action by appropriate stimuli, but that "we are thoughtful and reflective creatures whose identities and actions arise as a result of our interactions with others" Farganis, p. For Mead, what distinguishes humans from non-human animals is that humans have the ability to delay their reactions to a stimulus.
Intelligence is the ability to mutually adjust actions. Non-human animals also have intelligence because they often can act together or adjust what they do to the actions of other animals. Humans differ from non-human animals in that they have a much greater ability to do this. While humans may do this through involuntary gestures, Mead thought it more important that it is only humans that can adjust actions by using significant or meaningful symbols.
As a result of this greater intelligence, humans can communicate, plan, and work out responses, rather than merely reacting in an instinctive or stimulus-response manner. This Buzzle post takes a look at the similarities and differences between these two concepts. ScienceStruck Staff Last Updated: Jun 3, "History is, strictly speaking, the study of questions; the study of answers belongs to anthropology and sociology.
Auden Sociology analyzes the complex phenomenon of society and its organization. It studies the world that you have created as participants of society. Social scientists have put forth theories that have led to many revolutions, like those in support of Marxism.
Sociological theories are broadly classified as macrosociology and microsociology; based on structuralism and interactionism, respectively. For a better understanding, let us take a look at the similarities and differences between them. Sociology analyzes the complex phenomenon of society and its organization.
Microsociology is based on qualitative sociology rather than quantitative. It means that microsociology focuses on personal interviews and such interpretative analysis rather than statistical data. Moreno, a sociologist, defined sociometry as "the inquiry into the evolution and organization of groups and the position of individuals within them". Sociometric tests, sociomatrices, sociograms can be used to evaluate the emotional relationship existing between people in a small social group.
They do not merely respond to an action, but relate it to their own perspective of things.