175 posts categorized "Social Psychology"

October 10, 2022

Greetings: The Cultural Context of Saying Hello

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Saying hello seems pretty straightforward, and something we seldom think about unless we are in an unusual cultural context. When do we offer a greeting, and when we do, what do we say? Recent travels abroad made me think about these questions as I interacted with people who spoke different languages and had different cultural customs.

We usually don’t have to think much about these questions because we have cultural and social scripts that guide our behavior when interacting with others. We might think of these scripts as a series of words and actions to take in particular situations.

Continue reading "Greetings: The Cultural Context of Saying Hello" »

October 03, 2022

Smile for a Change

Cornelia Mayr Author Photo By Cornelia Mayr

Department of Sociology, University of Klagenfurt, Austria

“The circus is coming! The circus is coming!” a colorful street poster silently shouted at us while a friend and I were walking down the sidewalk. Amazing trapeze artists, skilled acrobats in fabulous costumes and exotic animals, all captured in a performing pose in front of a tent-like symbol. Right next to the artistic performers grinned the huge face of a comical clown cheerfully down on us. “Clowns are creepy,” my friend claimed determinedly. “Why?” I asked him. “It’s because. I don’t know. Just look at them. They are... clownish.”

Continue reading "Smile for a Change" »

September 19, 2022

The Right to Grief Without Diagnosis: Prolonged Grief in These Times is Normal

Stacy Torres author photoBy Stacy Torres

I dreaded the recent one-year anniversary of my father’s death from lung cancer, sensing an expiration date on others’ patience with my grief. The recent inclusion of “prolonged grief disorder” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) — which defines “prolonged” as lasting at least a year for adults—heightened my apprehension.

Is my intense sadness a mental illness or just being human? Rather than pathologize ten percent of grievers that may fall into “prolonged grief,” what if we instead embraced slower grieving?

Continue reading "The Right to Grief Without Diagnosis: Prolonged Grief in These Times is Normal" »

September 12, 2022

The Social Psychology of Kindness

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

In my last post I wrote about how the stress of animal care has led to workers leaving the profession, and how I had hoped a brief note of appreciation after my cat’s surgical procedure might be a small antidote to this stress.

I have been particularly attuned to front-facing workplace stress since my own stints as a server in a restaurant and working in retail during and shortly after college. I know what it is like to be yelled at by a stranger for something you didn’t do or can’t control, and how it feels when there is nothing you can do but smile even when that is the last thing you feel like doing, something called emotional labor.

Continue reading "The Social Psychology of Kindness" »

September 05, 2022

Emotional Labor and Animal Care

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

My cat recently needed oral surgery to have three teeth removed. It was an expensive procedure, as it required anesthesia and monitoring for most of the day. The local animal clinic is a busy place, too busy for its small storefront location, and humans are required to wait outside due to space limitations and the ongoing COVID pandemic. There is constant shuffling of newly arriving animals and those who have finished their appointments.

But staff there do a great job; they are quick to recognize when a patient arrives outside and immediately check in with the patient’s person. Vet techs later come to greet the animal with care, and the vet comes out after an examination, sits down with the person to discuss their findings. I received several phone calls throughout the day with updates about my cat’s progress, including when she was out of surgery and in recovery. When I came to pick her up a vet tech sat down and talked with me about her medication and follow-up care.

Continue reading "Emotional Labor and Animal Care" »

August 08, 2022

The End of Ending Relationships

Cornelia Mayr PhotoBy Cornelia Mayr

Department of Sociology, University of Klagenfurt, Austria

My colleague and I recently spoke about our experience with death. He asked me whether I have ever seen a dead person in real life. My answer was yes and so did he. Our experiences with death led us to talk about the opportunity to say goodbye to a loved one for the last time.

How often do we say goodbye, see you, so long, ciao, adieu, adios, sayonara, auf Wiedersehen, to our family members, friends, or acquaintance--mostly with the taken-for-granted assumption that we will meet another time? In fact, the German word auf Wiedersehen literally means until we see each other again. But what if we won’t be able to see this person again or do not want to? Do we always part our ways harmoniously? If you had known that you will never see a person close to you again, how would you have said goodbye?

Continue reading "The End of Ending Relationships" »

July 18, 2022

Death and Emotional Labor

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Since the pandemic started in 2020, I have “attended” three funerals online, two for elderly relatives who had cancer and one for the elderly father of a friend who had Alzheimer’s disease. Being thousands of miles away, the online option saved me the time and expense of making last-minute travel arrangements. I appreciated the privacy of watching the funerals alone, as I can get emotionally overwhelmed by other people appearing emotionally overwhelmed.

Of course, this is part of what the funeral ritual is for: to comfort the bereaved, and to be in a place where one can openly express sadness. In most social settings, there are unwritten rules that encourage us to stifle any impulse to weep uncontrollably. Typically, we try and hold back sobs and tears whenever possible. At a funeral such rules are loosened, but they still exist. This reflects Erving Goffman’s notion that we work to “regulate… face-to-face interaction” in his book Behavior in Public Places (p. 8).

Continue reading "Death and Emotional Labor" »

February 07, 2022

Greetings

Cornelia Mayr PhotoBy Cornelia Mayr

Department of Sociology, University of Klagenfurt, Austria

Human connection starts with a friendly smile and a warm hello. How does it feel to greet someone and not have the greeting returned?

I regularly visit the local ladies’ gym, and often have contact with mothers and grandmothers. One granny occasionally brings her five-year-old grandchild with her, a young girl who does not greet nor react to warm greetings. You might presume that the child is too shy to greet a stranger. Can you really be too shy to greet? Is it a must to greet people when we do not feel that we want to do so? The social greeting etiquette made me think of the meaning of this common ritual in everyday interactions.

Continue reading "Greetings" »

January 31, 2022

Tell Me Who I am: Identity and Society

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Won't you please, please tell me what we've learned/
I know it sounds absurd/
Please tell me who I am.

Supertramp, “Logical Song,” 1979.

Well, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)/
I really want to know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)/
Tell me who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)/
Because I really want to know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)

The Who,Who are You?” 1978

Who am I? Who are you? These two hit songs capture central questions we ask within American society, and within sociology. In the study of sociology, we are very interested in how people make sense of themselves. Some of our earliest thinkers asked these questions, such as George Herbert Mead (1863-1931) who saw identity emerging from interactions between the self and society, and later Erving Goffman (1922-1982), who described the process through which we work to manage the impressions others have of us during social interactions.

Continue reading "Tell Me Who I am: Identity and Society" »

January 03, 2022

Civil Inattention: Behind the Mask in the COVID Era

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

The pandemic has clearly impacted the way people interact in public. First, we often wear masks, a practice very unusual in the U.S. before 2020. We might give people a wide berth when encountering them on public sidewalks, walking in the street sometimes to avoid passing too closely. (The chorus of The Police’s 1980 hit song “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” has a whole new meaning now.)

And sometimes, we just ignore each other.

Continue reading "Civil Inattention: Behind the Mask in the COVID Era" »

Become a Fan

The Society Pages Community Blogs

Interested in Submitting a Guest Post?

If you're a sociology instructor or student and would like us to consider your guest post for everydaysociologyblog.com please .

Norton Sociology Books

The Real World

Learn More

Terrible Magnificent Sociology

Learn More

You May Ask Yourself

Learn More

Essentials of Sociology

Learn More

Introduction to Sociology

Learn More

The Art and Science of Social Research

Learn More

The Family

Learn More

The Everyday Sociology Reader

Learn More

Race in America

Learn More

Gender

Learn More