Similarities and Differences Between Microsociology and Macrosociology
Macro and microsociology have differences in scope, method, and of macrosociology often demonstrate correlation or causation between. Sociologists use both macro and micro levels of analysis to study social life. or whatever other resources they have; their relationships with girlfriends, family. from the micro- to the macro-level is to be divided by the size of the population (or an.
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.
Macrosociology vs microsociology
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. 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.
Notes on micro-sociological approaches
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.
Similarities and Differences Between Microsociology and Macrosociology
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. An act is the resultant of the meaning they put in it. Dramaturgical analysis is the study of social interactions by imagining ourselves as the directors of a drama staged in the theater of everyday life. Functionalism states that society tries to strike an equilibrium between 'social facts' like law and order, and 'institutions' like businesses.
Conflict theory explains the rift between the economic classes. It studies issues such as the effect of changes in government, technological advancements throughout history, the origin of capitalism, etc. In North America in the late nineteenth century, sociologists were more concerned about the effects of individual interactions on society. According to him, fashion is a largely urban phenomenon where individuals try to express their identity through their attire.
Yet people try to adhere to the fashion norms of their society. Individuality and a sense of belonging coexist in this example. And you can get a lot of statistical data from these big populations. But be careful how you analyze it. Don't ask a question when you already have an answer in mind, because you might interpret the data to prove your point. But, that won't actually tell you anything about the population you're studying. Don't find the one statistical test that makes the data fit your story, let the data tell the story.
Macrosociology deals with matters like war, or poverty, or the health care institution, or international stuff like the world economy. Functionalism is a social theory that comes from the macro perspective. Basically, functionalism looks at a society as a whole, and how the institutions that make up a society adapt to keep the society stable and functioning.
Conflict theory is also a macroperspective. Real quick, conflict theory is the idea that societies are made up of institutions that benefit the powerful and create inequalities, and large groups of people are at odds with each other until the conflict is resolved and a new social order is created with equally distributed power.
Okay, so that's the big picture perspective. Let's go to the other extreme and check out microsociology.