SELF AND SOCIETY                            Fall 2005

SOC 341 01       9 – 9:50 MWF                                    SJ 230

SOC 341 H1      11 – 11:50 MWF                                  SJ 230


D. E. Miller, Ph.D.

Office:  411 St. Joseph’s Hall

Hours:   10 – 11 and 1 – 2 MWF

Phone:    229-2430




Self and Society introduces students to the concepts, theories, and methods used to analyze social interaction, social relationships, and the self.  In this course we will explore various theories of the self, the nature of human behavior, the importance of language for perception and thought, reality as a social construction, and how self emerges and is maintained in and through our involvement in social relationships.  In the course of our study we will understand how healthy selves are possible in the contexts of social relationships and communities.



Inside Social Life, 4th Ed.  Spencer E. Cahill.  Roxbury Publishing Company (2004)

The Pursuit of Attention, 2nd Ed.  Charles Derber. Oxford University Press (2000)


In addition to the two texts, other readings, listed on the course outline, are available through electronic reserve.  I am an active user of e-mail.  This means that on occasion I will send you a reading as an attachment to an e-mail message or as a webpage address.  In the course of the semester some readings will be dropped while others are added.  This and other course information will be sent to you via e-mail.  It is in your interest to make a habit of reading your mail regularly – every day.



No doubt, you expect me to be present, prepared, and to conduct class on every assigned class period – or at least with very few absences.  I expect the same from you – regular attendance and being prepared for class by having completed the assigned readings.  Without your attendance and preparation it is difficult (really it is impossible) for us to accomplish our prime directive.  In this course I will combine lectures with discussions of the readings and of current topics (that is, the news, movies, music, television, etc.)  In this process I expect your cooperation.  To a significant extent I will treat the world as our text.  While I won’t take official attendance, I will be aware of your presence/absence.




Your grade for the course will be based on your performance on two midterm exams, a final exam, and a paper.  The dates for the exams are listed on the course outline.  The three exams and the paper each are worth 50 points.  A total of 200 points may be earned.  The exams will be comprised of definitions, short and long essay questions.  Material covered on the exams will be drawn from lectures, discussions, and readings.  Guidelines and topics for the paper will be distributed later in the course.  While attendance will not be taken officially, it will be noted.  Exams can only be made up with excused absences.


Grades will be distributed along the following guidelines:


200 – 190 = A           179 – 173 = B+          159 – 150 = C+       129 – 110 = D

189 – 180 = A-          172 – 166 = B           149 – 140 = C        109 –      = F

                          165 – 160 = B-          139 – 130 = C-



This document qualifies as a contract – an agreement between you and me.  As with many contracts, I have included an escape clause.  This is it.  Changes may be made in this document without prior notice.



Week   Topic                           Readings                                             

1.  The Nature of Human Nature    Sacks – Neurology and the Soul

                                                           Jerome Bruner – Culture and Psychology


2.  Language, Thought, Reality      Charon – The Importance of the Symbol (reserve)

Zerubavel – Islands of Meaning

Vygotsky – The Development of Language

                                                                   and Thought

                                                          Langston Hughes – That Powerful Drop (handout)


3.  Symbolic Interaction and Self    James – The Me and the I (handout)   

 Cooley – The Self as Sentiment and Reflection

 Mead – The Self as Social Structure

                                                           Goffman – The Presentation of Self

                                                       Blumer – Society in Action


4.  Identity and Self               Van Ausdale and Feagin – Young Children’s Use

                                                                   of Racial and Ethnic Identities

Milkie – Media Images’ Influence on Adolescent

          Girls’ Self-Concepts

                                                          Anderson – The Black Male in Public


5.  Social Bases of

Subjective Experience              Becker – The Social Basis of Drug-Induced


                                    Sterns – The Historical Struggle for Self-Control

                                                                   in America

                                                          Smith and Kleinman – Managing Emotions in

                                                                   Medical School


Exam: September 26th


6.  Self and Social Interaction      Adler and Adler – The Gloried Self

                                                          Snow and Anderson – Salvaging the Self from


                                                          Irvine – Narratives of Self in Codependents



7.  Interaction Order                      Goffman – Face-Work and Interaction Rituals

                                                          Cahill – The Interaction Order of Public Bathrooms

                                                          Thorne – Borderwork Among Girls and Boys

                                                          Holtgraves – Conversational Structure


8.  Social Relationships                      Naples – A Personal Story of Doing Family

                                                          Karp – Caring for and About the Mentally Ill

Frank – The Social Contexts of Illness


9.  Selves in Social Worlds              Dunier – Competing Legalities on Sixth Avenue

          Defined by Others                   Adler and Adler – Preadolescent Cliques, Friendships

                                                                   and Identity

                                                          Paules – Working and Resisting at Route Restaurant

                                                          Berkowitz and Padavic – The Contrasting Agendas

                                                                   of Black and White Sororities


10. The Politics of Reality              Goffman – The Moral Career of the Mental Patient

                                                          Fox – Self Change and Resistance in Prison

                                                          Best and Furedi – The Evolution of Road Rage

                                                          Berger – The Historical Construction of the



Exam: October 28th


11.  Attention and Narcissism       Derber – The Pursuit of Attention


12.  The Modern and                Gergen – The Dissolution of the Self

      Postmodern Self               Gubrium and Holstein – The Self in a World of

                                                                   Going Concerns


Term Paper Due: November 21st  


13. The Deviant and Mediated Self   Goffman – Stigma (handout)

                                     Miller – The Mediated Self (attachment)


14. The Healthy Self, Healthy       Miller – The Healthy Self (e-mail attachment)

Social Relationships, and            Jones – The Third Wave (reserve)

Healthy Communities               Wirth – Urbanism as a Way of Life (reserve)

                                                  Jacobs – Safe Neighborhoods (attachment)



Final Examination – Honors Section: December 13th at 2:30 p.m.

                            – Section 01: December 13th at 12:20 p.m.