Randall Collins: Concept, Social Stratification, Interaction Rituals Sociology YouTube Lecture Handouts

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Randall Collins: Concept, Social Stratification, Interaction Rituals | Sociology


  • 29 July, 1941
  • American Sociologist
  • Non-Marxist Conflict Theorist
  • Books –
    • Conflict Sociology, 1975
    • Weberian Sociological Theory, 1986
    • Theoretical Sociology, 1988
    • The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change, 1998
    • Violence: A Micro-sociological Theory, 2008
  • Methodology - Phenomenology and Ethnomethodology (Everyday life) and historical-comparative
  • Micro oriented (added a new level to the macro-level of conflict theory)
  • Individual point of view explained Stratification on a daily life basis
  • He chose conflict as the central process in social life
  • He didn՚t discuss whether conflict is good or bad for the society thus, his view is not ideological
  • Thus, influenced less by Marx and more by Weber, Emile Durkheim՚s concept of religion and Goffman՚s dramaturgy
  • “All relationships are based on some antagonism, domination and conflict on the one hand and there are also patterns of solidarity on the other.”
  • Empirical data and grounded theorization unlike other conflict theorists
  • Collins made use of Goffman՚s model of interaction rituals
  • Emphasized the importance of emotions in forging solidarity among individuals engaged in conflict.
  • Identifying the micro-processes of struggle and management in real life situations
  • For complex and detailed analysis of status groups and individuals who occupy different roles in the competition for resources and power in society


  • He viewed structures and actors as inseparable
  • Wanted to find the patterns of interaction
  • He believed that actors keep on creating and recreating social organization
  • Considered Marxian theory as starting point of conflict theory
  • Problems he found based on the lines of structural functionalism, with lots of ideologies

Collins on Social Stratification

  • Microsociology of stratification
  • Called Marxian theories as Monocausal explanation of a multicausal world
  • Social stratification can be studied in everyday life of people
  • “The more similar people՚s respective resources, the more likely are interactions to be more relaxed, whereas when larger inequalities exist, interactions will be stiff, highly ritualized, and short-term.”

Interaction Rituals

  • Face-to-face encounters
  • Rituals as the basic building blocks of all societies —
    • Groups
    • Organizations
    • Societies, etc.


Q. 1. Collins located conflict in the processes of day-to-day life inspired by ________

1. Goffman

2. Weber

3. Marx

4. Foucault

Ans. 4

Q. 2. According to who, ‘Social structures may be translated empirically into patterns of repetitive micro interaction’ ?

(1) Marx

(2) Coser

(3) Collins

(4) Nadel

Ans. 3

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