February 3, 2000
Discussion Question on Giddens
1. Explain what it means to say that "tacitly enacted practices" (two-thirds of the way down p. 131) are social institutions. Provide examples.
2. Near the bottom of p. 132, Cohen notes that the practices of the traffic officer cannot be fully understood by observing the traffic officer. Explain what Cohen means by this and why this is important to Giddens’s explanation of social structure.
3. Near the beginning of "Dilemmas of the Self" Giddens notes that every person "imposes his [or her] own order on this diversity" of phenomena. From your own experience, how do you do this? What does this illustrate about pre-established habits, avoidance of dissonance, and conscious thought?
4. What might be some differences between Giddens’s "cosmopolitan person" (Dilemmas, p. 2) and Simmel’s metropolitan man?
5. What is the "evaporated self" on pp. 2-3? Does this differ from Goffman’s self?
6. Provide examples other than the use of money of how "the vesting of trust can also generate new capacities" (p. 4).
7. On p. 7, Giddens argues that commodification can result in "a reshaping of the conditions of day-to-day life." How can this be? Provide some examples that might illustrate this process.
Return to Sociology 319.