Sociology 319

Midterm Examination – Part I

11:30 a.m. – 12:20 p.m., February 26, 2003


Answer two questions in part A (30 points) and one question in part B (15 points).  Part II of the examination (30 points) is an essay question on Friday.  You can bring copies of all readings for the essay question.


A. Short Answer.  Select two of the following topics and explain each. (2 x 15 = 30 points).

  1. Provide an example of each of Weber’s four types of social action (instrumentally rational, value rational, affectual, and traditional) and explain how the example illustrates the type of action.

2.      Systems and structures are each part of the structuration theory of Anthony Giddens.  What is the difference between systems and structures and what the sociological relevance of this difference?

3.      Cohen states “Parsons’s solution hinges on expanding his theoretical concern from a single act to a chain of analytically connected acts.”  What problem does Parsons attempt to solve through chains of action and what does this mean?

4.      “Any symbol or gesture considered apart from interaction is always ambiguous until specified as meaningful by being introduced into a specific, locally constructed context” (Turner, p. 91).  Cohen states that this is an essential aspect of ethnomethodology.  Explain.

5.      For Simmel, what is the blasé personality and why does it emerge?

6.      Emotions are not usually considered part of sociology.  Yet in “On Face-Work” Goffman mentions various emotions (feeling good or bad, confidence, embarrassment, politeness) that may be involved in establishing and maintaining face.  Explain how emotions from part of Goffman’s approach.

7.      In her talk on Bakhtin, Dr. Ramsey discussed the “embodied self.”  Explain what this means and indicate how other writers may include aspects of such a self in their writings.

8.      In the chapter “Symbolic Interactionism in the Twentieth Century,” Plummer mentions four characteristics of a symbolic interactionist approach.  Briefly describe these.

9.      While the primary focus of action, praxis, and interaction theorists is not on social institutions, their analysis can be used to explain how institutions emerge and maintain themselves.  Analyze by referring to one or more theorists studied this semester.


B.  Quote.  Select one of the quotes on the attached page.  Write a short explanation of the quote, discuss how the ideas in the quote relate to the sociological perspective of the author of the quote and, if possible, provide a critique.  (15 points).



Quotes for question B of Sociology 319 midterm examination – February 26, 2003.


  1. In his discussion of mind as the individual importation of the social process, George Herbert Mead states “Mind is nothing but the importation of this external process into the conduct of the individual so as to meet the problems that arise.”


  1. One of the dilemmas of the self for Anthony Giddens is unification versus fragmentation.  Giddens states “Modernity fragments; it also unites.”


  1. In “The Metropolis and Mental Life,” Georg Simmel argues “the development of modern culture is characterized by the preponderance of what one may call the ‘objective spirit’ over the ‘subjective spirit.’” (p. 421).


  1. Near the end of “On Face-Work,” when discussing the nature of the ritual order, Erving Goffman states “Universal human nature is not a very human thing.  By acquiring it, the person becomes a kind of construct, built up not from inner psychic propensities but from moral rules that are impressed upon him from without.”  (p. 45).