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Gender and Interaction

Sociological tradition has deep roots in pragmatism; social forces should be observable if they are true.Furthermore, the ultimate way to achieve true verstehen is to understand the interaction from the perspective of the actor.Thus, this qualitative analysis of social interaction will focus on the actors and how they are constructed in the ongoing performance of social life.Goffman's book on advertising and gender offers a basis for an analysis of the social world inundated by media images, begging the question "How does advertising affect social interaction between the genders?"Adding to Goffman's constructionist view of society are Durkheim and Simmel.Both saw society as a web of patterned interactions; Durkheim upheld the idea of the primacy of the social, while Simmel's mixed bag of sociological theory was unified by the notion of society, and more specifically the dyad, existing through interaction.
Through my observations I will argue that gender is a social construct, that advertising is an agent in this construction, and that the way gender is "done" in advertising effects interaction between men and women.Over a weekend I gathered friends together under the guise of celebrating my birthday in an extended fashion.The group was composed in all social situations of four dyads and three uncoupled individuals.Simmel's conceptualization of the dyad is conducive to observing gender interactions, because much of how gender is constructed involves masculinity and femininity as being performances to attract and retain affections of the opposite sex.Simmel emphasized that culture sustains its influence through interaction, and that the survival of the dyad depends on the nature of its interaction.In service of clarity, I only observed heterosexual dyadic interactions.
I observed a wide array of gendered behaviors.At a restaurant, when people in my party ordered wine…

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