The position in society plays a significant role in one’s personality formation and ability to efficiently cooperate with other people. The study of this aspect of life is essential for increasing the understanding of these mechanisms and evaluating citizens’ well-being on the grounds of their personal features. Since the latter derives from the culture of a person’s population group or ethnicity, it should be viewed as a factor defining their perceptions as a whole. Therefore, this paper aims to analyze two individuals’ responses with the consideration of their principal characteristics and the environment through the lens of sociological perspectives and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of interviews.
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The first interviewee is a black woman named Tina, who has been working as a nurse practitioner for the past eight years. She is from a middle-class family and was born in Austin, Texas, as well as her husband, who is also black. Her social position is no different from the one of her parents and other relatives. Tina studied at Texas Christian University and holds a Bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). According to her, the combination of race and gender played the most significant role in her life, and the class was not important at all. More specifically, it defined the unfavorable situation of this woman in employment.
This outcome is confirmed by the findings of scholars who claim that this population group is one of the most vulnerable in the United States from the psychosocial perspective (Gaffey et al., 2019). These stratifiers defined her pessimistic outlook regarding the work opportunities and the ability to find a new job in the case if she loses the one at the hospital.
The second interviewee is a Caucasian man named Kevin, and he was identified as an upper-middle-class citizen. He was born in Riverside, California and studied construction management and engineering there. At present, he is single and working for a company engaged in building bridges. Kevin is reported to be quite satisfied with his job and life as a whole connected to his place in society. From his point of view, it provides unlimited opportunities for individuals who are willing to take them. Kevin’s responses correspond to the conclusion of researchers, according to which the achievement of social justice is complicated by the presence of such a phenomenon as a white male privilege (Etchells, 2017).
In this case, class, race, and gender defined a positive attitude of this participant towards society. They played a significant role in the process of the interviewee’s personality formation and made him believe that everyone is in equal conditions. Hence, in contrast to Tina, his position seems more stable and, therefore, leads to greater satisfaction from being a full-fledged member of the community.
Sociological Perspective: Symbolic Interactionism
The selected sociological perspective known as symbolic interactionism suits the situations described above. It implies the construction of people’s roles in the process of interaction instead of simply learning the behavioral models from other citizens through observations (“Sociological perspectives on social problems,” 2017). In this way, the interpretation of events by individuals is more important than their actions for efficient socialization and can be used to consider the cases of Tina and Kevin. Hence, the former developed negative views regarding life’s opportunities due to the knowledge of her ethnicity’s issues underpinned by her personal experience.
They contributed to the formation of a belief that a clear preference of employees from other backgrounds by medical facilities is the sign of her future inability to achieve promotion. Meanwhile, the latter’s opinion is quite the opposite because his history of interaction with other people was defined by his willingness to follow generally accepted social rituals such as greeting others and shaking hands. Consequently, they present the two extremes with corresponding results, which define the circumstances of the interviewees’ situations in respect to establishing communication patterns.
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Specific Components of Culture
Another aspect of the matter is a set of cultural elements guiding Tina and Kevin in their decision-making process and thereby ensuring their stratified position in society. From this perspective, Tina’s participation is explained by the emphasized need of women of her ethnicity regarding support from peers and the availability of social resources for self-development (Gaffey et al., 2019). As follows from her responses, they were insufficiently addressed and led to the emergence of the mentioned complications related to her perceptions. In turn, Kevin’s cultural norms primarily included individualism, the belief in the importance of hard work, and materialism (Etchells et al., 2017).
In other words, his preferences typical for white males were diametrically opposed to the ones of Tina and did not conflict with reality. Moreover, according to social stratification principles, the fact of his belonging to an upper middle class was vital for the degree of content with the life circumstances (Miyamoto, 2017). As a result, the reflections of Tina and Kevin on their places in society correlated with their groups’ cultural norms and the extent to which they were observed.
Benefits and Limitations of Interviews
The conducted interviews revealed both benefits and limitations of this approach as a research method for sociological studies. The advantages were expressed by the flexibility, enhanced communication due to the presence of people in one place, and the opportunity to consider the non-verbal behavior (Sociology Group, 2019). Hence, it was possible to vary the questions and their order depending on the responses and the lacking information, which was essential for further analysis.
Moreover, this technique allowed to gain more trust from the participants and thereby ensure the precision of their answers. In turn, the drawbacks of interviews as per the theory were related to the biases stemming from the researcher’s personal characteristics, anonymity concerns, and a considerable amount of time spent on the conversations (Sociology Group, 2019). Put another way, the difference in background, gender, and race complemented by other factors specified above happened to be the main obstacle to a successful implementation of this tool. Therefore, it can be concluded that conducting a study with the help of this methodology is reasonable if one has no time limits and belongs to the same population group as the participants.
To summarize, examining socialization by interviewing two people with different characteristics in terms of race, class, and gender demonstrated their importance for one’s place in society. Thus, a black middle-class woman was reported to have more issues in this regard than a Caucasian upper-middle-class man despite their educational qualifications. Their experiences were subject to the assessment by using the framework of symbolic interactionism. It showed the dependence of the interviewees’ positions on their views. As for culture, its components contributed to the specified findings. In the end, this type of study happened to be efficient, but the accuracy was affected by the difference between the participants and the researcher.
Etchells, M. J., Deuermeyer, E., Liles, V. M., Meister, S. M., Suarez, M. I., & Chalklen, W. L. (2017). White male privilege: An intersectional deconstruction. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 4(2), 13-27. Web.
Gaffey, A. E., Aranda, F., Burns, J. W., Purim-Shem-Tov, Y. A., Burgess, H. J., Beckham, J. C., Bruehl, S., & Hobfoll, S. E. (2019). Race, psychosocial vulnerability and social support differences in inner-city women’s symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, 32(1), 18-31. Web.
Miyamoto, Y. (2017). Culture and social class. Current Opinion in Psychology, 18, 67-72. Web.
Sociological perspectives on social problems. (2017). Libraries. Web.
Sociology Group. (2019). Advantages and disadvantages of interview in research. Web.