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Ritzer: Contemporary Sociological Theory Book Cover
Contemporary Sociological Theory and Its Classical Roots: The Basics
George Ritzer, University of Maryland

Modern Theories of Everyday Life

Chapter Objectives

After reading Chapter 6, students should be able to:

discuss the relationships between classical theories of everyday life and contemporary theories of everyday life. For example, Goffman and Garfinkel draw on assumptions contained in symbolic interactionist theory, and feminist theorists challenge many of the assumptions of classical theories of everyday life.

recognize the additions that contemporary theorists of everyday life make to classical theories of everyday life. For example, while classical theorists of everyday life largely rejected the theories of behaviorism, social exchange theory depends upon behaviorist assumptions.

distinguish between the main contemporary theories of everyday life, the representative scholars of each theory, and the way that each uniquely addresses the problems of everyday life.

compare and contrast the broad assumptions about human nature that each theoretical perspective adopts. Symbolic interactionism and ethnomethodology assume that human beings are symbol users, whereas social exchange theory and rational choice theory assume that human beings are rational individualists. Feminist theorists reject most of the assumptions of the other four perspectives represented in this chapter.

discuss the various efforts that contemporary theorists of everyday life make to connect the microsocial level of behavior with the macrosocial level of behavior. For example, Goffman argues that front stages can become institutions, Coleman believes that rational decision making can produce social systems, and feminists claim that macrosocial ideologies shape everyday interaction behavior.

apply the contemporary theories of everyday life to understand their own and others' lives.