Do you agree that people prefer to engage in comfortable, patterned interactions? If so, why do you think this is the case?
Module 1: Discussion Board Question 1-2
One of the central concepts in Sociology is social organization. What is social organization or an organization? Let’s define the word “organization” first. Something is organized when a number of elements or objects are held together in relation to each other in a certain pattern. Webster’s dictionary defines “to organize” as to give a definite structure, to arrange, or to put into an order. For example, if I drop a deck of cards and they fall on the floor and scatter all over, are they organized? No, but what if I arrange the cards by putting all the cards with hearts in a row, beginning with the ace and ending with the king, and doing the same for cards with spades, diamonds, and clubs? Then the cards would be organized according to two criteria: suit and value.
So what do we need to have “organization?” We need to have elements or objects to be organized. In research, we refer to this as the unit of study. Then we need the elements to be put in some order or pattern in relation to each other, or something else. In addition, there is some criteria by which the elements patterned. For the cards it was the value and suit of the card. Finally, there is some force putting or holding the elements in the patterns.
Sometimes things may appear to be unorganized, but upon closer study we find that they are organized. For example, we can look up at the stars on a clear and dark night, and see millions of stars sprinkled across the sky. They appear to be located randomly across the sky. But, astronomers have found many patterns and learned that they are organized by certain criteria. Let’s test this out by our definition. The stars are the elements. There are many reoccurring patterns, such as worlds with moons, galaxies, and universes. What are the criteria by which the stars are organized? I am not an astronomer, but some of the criteria are the size of the star, the weight and distance between them. Finally, what force is holding the stars into the patterns? Gravity and motion hold the stars into the patterns.
Now that we understand what organization means, and how it applies to non-human phenomena, let’s see if human behavior is organized. If human behavior has no organization or patterns, then we could not study it. If behavior is just random and people act in random ways according to how they felt on a given day, there would be no basis to study or understand it.
So referring back to our definition of organization, what are the elements to be patterned for human behavior? Would it be people? No, that is the business of physiologists who study races, body types, and the various physical characteristics of people. Would the elements be personalities? No, that is the business of psychologists. For sociologists, the elements to be patterned are many. At the most micro level, the elements would be interactions between people and groups of people. But are these interactions patterned? The patterns also are many and can be complex. For example, there are patterns of greetings in all cultures, such as “Hi, how are you? – I’m fine, how are you?” Another pattern is going on dates, or going to work or school on select days of the week. Most of our behavior follows definite patterns and we do the same things over and over again. So what are the criteria by which the social interactions are patterned? Again they are many. How many things affect how we interact with another person? Obviously, age and gender greatly affect how we interact with others. For example, a boy interacts differently with girls in his class than with boys. We interact differently with our parents than with other adults. The criteria influencing how we interact are many, such as occupation, family membership, social economic status, and so on. Finally, what is the force holding our social interactions into these patterns? Sociologists call this force the social control structure. All societies construct norms and values that regulate our behavior and it is regulated by the social control structure. The control may be formal such as punishment by the criminal justice system, or informal such as control by the approval and disapproval of others around us.
So we can see that our social behavior does meet the criteria we set up to qualify as being organized. In fact, if this were not the case, studying social interaction would be impossible because without a structure of patterned behavior, understanding or predicting behavior would be impossible. And on a personal level, we all know that the people around us act in patterned ways. In fact, we can often predict how others will respond to situations after we have gotten to know them well. In fact, the longer I study human behavior, the more convinced I become that most people prefer to engage in comfortable, patterned interactions.
Discussion Question 1-2: Do you agree that people prefer to engage in comfortable, patterned interactions? If so, why do you think this is the case? Read another student’s answer to this question and explain why you agree or disagree with it. (4 points)
Post your responses to these questions. 3 posts are required: 1 original post (at least 200 words, due by the end of the day on the first Wednesday of the Module), and 2 responses to/comments on your classmates’ original posts (at least 100 words each, due by the time the Module closes).