Social Worlds

Joan Fujimura (1991) interprets Anselm Strauss’s (1964, 1978) definition of social worlds, following the work of Howard Becker on commitments and collective action(1960, 1974, 1986),

…as groups with shared commitments to certain activities, sharing resources of many kinds to achieve their goals, and building shared ideologies about how to go about their business. Social worlds form a fundamental building block of collective action and are the units of analysis in many interactionist studies of collective action. Social worlds are the principle affiliative mechanisms through which people organize social life… Society as a whole, then, can be conceptualized as consisting of a mosaic of social worlds that both touch and interpenetrate (Gerson 1978.)

And later Gerson defines it like this “All the activities that go to make up a line of work or a way of living— industries, hobbies, communities, scientific disciplines, professions, or ethnic groups— are called social worlds.” (1998)

Bibliographic note:

Becker, Howard S. 1960. “Notes on the Concept of Commitment.” American Journal of Sociology 66 (July):32-40.

——-. 1974. “Art as Collective Action.” American Historical Review 39(6):767-76.

——.  1986. Doing Things Together. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.

Fligstein, N. 1985. “The Spread of the Multidivisional Form among Large Firms, 1919-1979.” American Sociological Review 50:377-91.

Fujimura, Joan. “Social Worlds/Arenas Theory as Organizational Theory”, in Social Organization and Social Process: Essays in Honor of Anselm Strauss. Anselm Leonard Strauss and David R. Maines, Eds., (1991) Transaction Publishers.

Strauss, Anselm, Leonard Schatzman, Rue Bucher, Danuta Erlich, and Melvin Sabshin. 1964. Psychiatric Ideologies and Institutions. Glencoe, IL: The Free Press.

Strauss, Anselm L. 1978. “A Social Worlds Perspective.” Pp. 119-128 in Studies in Symbolic Interaction, Volume 1, edited by Norman Denzin. Greenwich, CT. JAI Press.

Gerson, Elihu. 1978. “The Unit of Analysis in Symbolic Interactionism.” Paper, Tremont Research Institute, 457 29th St., San Fransisco, CA 94121.

—— 1998. Unpublished Dissertaion.