SOCI 275
6 credits (Full-Year Course)
Concordia University (Montreal)
Dr. Benet Davetian
Class Hours: Tuesdays, 6-8:15 p.m.
Office Hours:
Telephone: 288-9545

This course investigates the psychological factors that affect social norms and structures
and the sociological conditions which affect personal identity and behavior.

Welcome. Thank you for being part of this group. I hope that our journey together will be useful and inspiring.
This course is designed to provide you with a coherent introduction to the study of how self-identity and social structure intersect. It is meant to be useful to those who are majoring in sociology as well as those headed in other directions. Because sociology is the study of social institutions and human action and motivation it helps us develop the ability to sift through human experience and think of reality using various points of view. This is useful (and valuable) knowledge, regardless of what you end up doing later in life.

Attendance/Participation 10%
Mid-term Exam 30%
Final Exam 30
*Question Assignment:
There is a small assignment which counts as part of your attendance grade. Assignment: Please submit a question written on a sheet of paper with your name and ID included. The question can be regarding any aspect relating to individual psychology and identity and the social consequences of these. I will present some of the questions in our class discussions without naming their authors.

Regarding Attendance:
I find it very important that you be present for the classes. That is why attendance counts for 10% of your final grade. It is impossible to maintain an authentic and relaxed learning environment if the instructor is censoring the depth of his or her presentations because there are too many people missing in class. If you do have to miss a class for urgent reasons, you are asked to call my home number and leave a message. If the reason is valid you will be exempted. Following any absence you are expected to acquire lecture notes from a colleague. If you are ill for over a week, please stay in touch by e-mail so I can keep you up to date. Furthermore, a class on the psychology of interaction requires class discussions and these are difficult to conduct if the cohesion of the group is disturbed (and sometimes demoralized)
by numerous absences. So please ensure that your schedule permits regular attendance prior to registering for this course. An attendance sheet will be passed at the beginning of the second half of each class.

E-mail and Internet:

1)Please ensure that you have an e-mail address for course communications. If you do not have one you may create an account at universal servers such as or These sites allow you to check your e-mail from any location. You will be requested to fill in your e-mail address on a sheet that will be passed at the second class; please ensure that you have an e-mail account by the second week. Attendance in class without an e-mail address will not be accepted, since there is sometimes a need to communicate important announcements and send material by e-mail. Unless everyone has an e-mail address such announcements are nearly impossible to make, not if fairness to all is to be maintained. If you do not yet have computer equipment you can use one of the university computer center's computers or an internet cafe to get your account established at one of the free servers.
2) There is a special web site for this course. It is located at You will find this course outline and a link to a comprehensive data base of links on various topics in social psychology and the study of self and society. You will expected to do research on this site during the course and supplement your text readings with the wealth of information available at these links. Use of the web page will be demonstrated to you in class.

Mid-term and Final Exams:
The mid-term and final exams cover the material in the text and the lectures. There are no tricky questions and you are given an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the material while adding your own insights. If you fail the mid-term (a usually rare event in my classes) you will be allowed to redo it at home and your grade will be raised to a passing grade if your rewrite is satisfactory. Our goal is the acquisition of maximum learning through whatever means best work for all of us.

The Final Exam is a take-home exam. It will be given to you on the last day of class and you will have 14 days to complete and return it to a prescribed location at a prescribed hour (usually the same hour and day of our class schedule). It is expected that, since this is a take-home exam, answers and commentary will be well-organized and checked conscientiously for grammatical and format errors. If you need assistance with your writing please do take advantage of the services of the University Writing Center.

Research Paper:
Due prior to the completion of the year. The paper will consist of an in-depth examination of a topic central to self and society studies. Please submit a one or two-paragraph summary of the topic you have chosen prior to going ahead with your work. This proposal is due during the first term. Further guidance on the preparation of this paper will be provided during class (maximum 15 pages). The papers are expected to follow the standard citations guide for the social sciences. You will be provided with this guide and I will explain the proper citation format in class. Any deviations will lose you points.

Writing Seminar:
One of the lectures will be devoted to giving you some pointers on the writing of a research paper. You will also be provided with a sheet showing you how to cite authors and sources in papers. Lucid writing is one of the most powerful things you can take away from a university education.... Facts can be forgotten over time, but the ability to write simple and coherent sentences remains with you forever and increases your chances of professional success.

Taping Lectures:
Anyone wishing to tape a lecture is allowed to do so.

Percentage and Letter Interpretation
90-100 A+
85-89 A
80-84 A-
77-79 B+
73-76 B
70-72 B-
67-69 C+
63-66 C
60-62 C-
57-59 D+
53-56 D
50-52 D-
40 (30-49) F or FNS
20 (0-29) R

Reading Material:
You are expected to read the assigned chapter before arriving in class. I will not be lecturing on all the details of the text but will be presenting a conceptual understanding of the material so we can have a fruitful discussion. Having read the text prior to the class lecture will prepare you for discussions and allow you to ask relevant questions. Your attendance grade will be based not only on attendance but also on your preparedness. A text of reasonable length (and high quality) has been chosen to make for a weekly reading load that is manageable. A considerable amount of knowledge and insight will also be shared with you from sources outside the text, contemporary media and film being some of them.

Joel M. Charon, Symbolic Interactionism, 7th edition. Available at the Concordia Bookstore.
David G. Myers, Exploring Social Psychology, 2nd edition. Available at the Concordia Bookstore.
Important: Both texts need be purchased at the beginning of the course since there are readings from each at the beginning of the Fall term. When beginning your reading of a chapter or module please begin by looking at the topics covered in the chapter in the table of contents. This will give you an idea of what the chapter will be covering and make the material easier to integrate and retain. NOTE: Although many weeks require readings of more than one chapter, the chapters are short---your readings per week average 25- 35 pages of lucid, well-written text.




Weeks 1 and 2
(Ppt #1)
Introducing the Psychology of the Social and the Methods of Process Sociology
How our self-concept and our beliefs about ourselves influence our thoughts and actions
Factors which shape our self-concept: the powerful role of symbols
Self-efficacy and its relationship to behavior
The self-serving bias and its adaptive and maladaptive characteristics
Identity and impression-management
Process Sociology: reconciling studies of self and society; Self and Society as an interactive process
READING: Myers Modules 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Weeks 3 and 4
Becoming a Member of Society - Theoretical Perspectives
Commonalties and Differences Between Sociology and Psychology
The Nature of Perspective
Psychoanalytical Theory
Learning Theory
Exchange Theory
Phenomenology and Ethnomethodology
Social Cognition
Social Constructionism
Symbolic Interactionism and American Pragmatism
Evolutionary Theory
READING: Charon Ch. 1 and 2; Class Handout on Theories.

Week 5
Symbolic Interactionism as a Perspective
(Ppt #2)
Five Central Ideas of Subjective Interactionism
Shibutani: The Reference Groups as perspectives
Attitudes versus perspectives
READING: Charon Ch. 3
WEB READING: Herbert Mead on 'Self and Society' on course web-site

Week 6
The Importance and Meaning of Symbols
(Ppt. #3 & #4)
The Nature of Reality
Objects as 'social objects'
Symbols versus signs
Symbols and Social Reality
Symbols and Human Social Life
Symbols and the Individual
The Importance of Symbols
READING: Charon Ch. 4 and 5

Week 7
The Nature of the Self
(Ppt #5)
Self as a Social Object
Self as Social Development
Four Stages of Self-Development
Selves as Ever-changing Social Objects
Self-Perception and Judgment
Self-Perception and Identity
Self-Control and Restraint
Central Ideas about the Self
The "I" and the "Me"
The Meaning of Mind
Mind Action
READING: Charon Ch. 6 and 7

Week 8
Taking the Role of the Other
The Importance of Role Taking
Nine Ways Role Taking is Central to Life

READING: Charon Ch. 8

Week 9
Human Action and Interaction

Action, Goals and Social Objects
Mead's Four Stages of the Act
Locating the "Cause" of Human Action
The Definition of the Situation
The Role of the Past and Future in Action
Action: Motives, Choice and Emotions
The Meaning of Social Interaction
Identity Formation in Social Interaction
How Social Interaction Maintains Society

READING: Charon Ch. 9 and 10

Week 10
Society and the Presentation of Self

Groups, Organizations, Social Worlds and Societies
The Individual Exists in Many Societies
The Active Human Being in Society
ERVING GOFFMAN and the Dramaturgical Presentation of Self
Drama in interaction
Impressions and Performances
Performance Teams
Erving Goffman's View of Self
Social Control and the Self
The Role and Meaning of Ritual
The Role of Embarrassment
READING: Charon Ch. 11 and 12
on course web site.


Week 11
Social Beliefs and Judgments
Attribution Theory
How our preconceptions control our interpretations and memories
The overconfidence phenomenon
How our moods affect our judgments
How erroneous beliefs may generate their own reality
READING: Myers Modules 6, 7 and 8

Week 12
Behaviors and Attitudes
What constitutes an attitude
The relationship between attitude and behavior
How behavior can determine attitudes
How rewards influence attitudes
READING: Myers Module 9

Week 13


Gender, Genes and Culture
Relationships between biology and culture
Gender similarities and differences
The nature and function of norms
READING: Myers Module 10


Week 14
(January 6)
Conformity and the difference between ‘compliance’ and ‘acceptance’
Classic studies of conformity
Circumstances conducive to conformity and why people conform
How personality and cultural background are related to conformity
Why people resist social pressure
READING: Myers Module 11

Week 15
Two paths to persuasion
Characteristics of effective communications
Persuasion in cult indoctrination
How people resist persuasion
READING: Myers Module 12 and 13

Week 16
Group Influence
How we are affected by the presence of others
Social loafing
Group polarization
Causes, symptoms and prevention of ‘group-think’
READING: Myers Modules 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18

Week 17

Prejudice - Disliking Others
Prejudice and discrimination
Recent trends in racial and gender prejudice
The role of unequal status, self-fulfilling prophecies and formation of group in the maintenance of prejudice.
How prejudice is maintained through conformity and institutional supports
Scapegoat theory of prejudice and the dynamics of authoritarianism
Cognitive consequences of stereotypes
READING: Myers Module 19 and 20

Week 18
Aggression: Hurting Others
Aggression: hostile and instrumental aggression
Instinct view of aggression
Biological influence of aggression
Causes and consequences of frustration
Social learning view of aggression
Conditions that provoke behavior
TV’s effects on thinking and behavior
Ways of reducing aggression
READING: Myers Modules 21 and 22

Week 19
Attraction and Intimacy
Role of proximity and physical attractiveness in mutual attraction
The role of ‘similarity’ in friendships and the phenomenon of mutual liking
Reward theory of attraction
The nature of passionate love --- cultural, personality and gender variations
Different attachment styles in interpersonal relationships
Importance of equity and self-disclosure in close relationships
READING: Myers Modules 25 and 26

Week 20
Altruism – Helping Others
Defining altruism
Social exchange theory
Social norms and their influence on altruism
Situational influences
Primal influences that affect helping
Who is likely to receive help
Special Topic: Courtesy and Civility in Cross-cultural Perspective.
READING: Myers Module 27

Weeks 21 and 22
Conflict and Peacemaking
Defining conflict: the difference between conflict and violence; direct Vs structural conflict;
peacekeeping Vs peace-building
How the exclusive pursuit of self-interest can create a social dilemma
How competition produces conflict
Criterion people use to define justice
Specific misperceptions that fuel conflict
Case Study: Relationships (Direct conflict)
Case Study: Groups and Nations (Structural Conflict)
How subordinate goals reduce conflict - the win-win situation
Bargaining, mediation and arbitration
Peacekeeping in violent situations
Peace-building through social justice: avoiding violence
READING: Myers Modules 23 and 24

Weeks 23
Towards a Sociology of Emotions
How feelings affect social behavior
How emotions and ideology are linked
Childhood experience and adult personality/ideology
The recognition of personal pain in contemporary society
Only Lecture: No reading. Attendance crucial.

Weeks 24
Globalization and its Effects on Identity and Behavior
WEB READING: 1) Go to and scroll down to
'globalization resources' section and read the site.
2) Also read the article 'Moral tensions.....' on page one of site.

Weeks 25 and 26
Applying Knowledge of the Self to the Study of Social Problems
Violence and Crime
Troubled relationships
Courtesy and civility
Corporate ethics and management methods
Ethnic and Religious Conflicts
TOPIC: How have the social, economic and political changes of the last
two centuries transformed our conceptions of 'self and society'
While discussing this topic and examining existing research we will apply our
knowledge of different cultures to examine the common meanings (and differences) of
varying cultural norms and relationship-codes. Such comparative thinking will help
us speculate on which aspects of human personality are universal and which are open
to local construction and interpretation. An important part of this part of the course will be
the study of how conflict develops and the means available for its resolution.