Which one of the following is the pre-requisite of social interaction? | Sociology for CUET by Vikash Ranjan | Sociology Guru

prerequisite of social interaction


Question: Which one of the following is the pre-requisite of social interaction?

  1. Face to face contact
  2. Harmony
  3. Physical contact 
  4. Mutual orientation

Answer: (4)

To understand the prerequisite of social interaction, it’s essential to delve into the nuances of how humans communicate and establish relationships within their social environment. The question posits four options—face-to-face contact, harmony, physical contact, and mutual orientation—as potential prerequisites. While all these elements can play significant roles in social interaction, the correct answer, as highlighted by sociological theories, particularly those of Erving Goffman, is mutual orientation.

Mutual Orientation as a Prerequisite of Social Interaction

Mutual orientation refers to the shared focus or awareness that two or more individuals have towards each other in the course of an interaction. It is a fundamental component of social engagement because it implies a reciprocal acknowledgment that each participant is both a subject and an object in the social encounter. This mutual awareness is foundational, even before face-to-face or physical contact occurs, and it does not necessarily presuppose harmony, which might or might not emerge from the interaction.

Erving Goffman’s Observations and Dramaturgical Approach

Goffman, through his work, provides a profound insight into these intricacies. His dramaturgical approach likens social interaction to a theatrical performance, where individuals present themselves in a certain manner to control and manage the impressions they make on others. This perspective illustrates that beyond the physicality of an interaction, the psychological and symbolic dimensions are what truly shape the social fabric.

Impression Management

In social interactions, people engage in impression management, consciously and unconsciously crafting the way they come across to others. They do this in hopes of being perceived favorably, as trustworthy and worthy of the other person’s time and attention. Goffman’s observations in the Shetland Islands underscore this point. The neighbors adjusting their expressions before they come into view signifies a keen awareness of the social stage and the importance of managing impressions even before actual face-to-face interaction begins.

Expressions Given and Given Off

The dynamics between what an individual intends to express (“expressions given”) and what is inadvertently revealed (“expressions given off”) create a complex interplay that observers use to assess the individual’s authenticity. This assessment is based not only on the content of what is said but also on non-verbal cues like body language, tone, and appearance. This is why mutual orientation is fundamental—it encompasses the whole range of explicit and implicit communication that occurs in a social interaction.

Why Mutual Orientation Over Other Options?

Face-to-face contact: While important, is not a strict prerequisite for social interaction in the modern world. With the advent of digital communication, people can interact without being physically present in front of one another, yet still maintain mutual orientation through other means like text, voice, or video.

Harmony: While a desirable outcome, is not a prerequisite for interaction. Many social interactions start without harmony and sometimes result in conflict. Harmony may be a goal or a product of social interaction but not a starting condition.


Mutual orientation is essential for any social interaction because it establishes the framework within which all other elements of the interaction unfold. It is the psychological space where individuals become attuned to each other’s presence and intentions, setting the stage for everything from a simple exchange of greetings to the complex dance of social rituals observed by Goffman. This mutual focus allows individuals to navigate the subtleties of social life, managing impressions and deciphering the often unspoken social codes that govern human relationships. It is the silent conductor orchestrating the symphony of social engagement, dictating the rhythm and flow of interpersonal exchanges. Without mutual orientation, social interaction loses its coherence, becoming a disjointed array of signals devoid of synchronicity and shared meaning.

In sum, mutual orientation is a cornerstone of social interaction because it is the underlying condition that enables individuals to engage with one another in a meaningful way, with a shared understanding that they are part of a reciprocal social exchange. It is the canvas upon which the art of social interaction is painted, where the subtleties of human communication, with all its symbolic richness and complexity, are played out.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Question: Define the term “ethnic movement” and provide an example from India.

Answer: An ethnic movement refers to a collective effort by a group sharing common cultural, linguistic, or religious traits, seeking to assert their identity and rights; an example from India is the Khalistan Movement in Punjab.

2. Question: Identify the main objectives behind the Gorkhaland ethnic movement.

Answer: The Gorkhaland ethnic movement primarily seeks to establish a separate state for India’s Nepali-speaking population in the Darjeeling region, advocating for linguistic and cultural recognition and political autonomy.

3. Question: What was the Operation Blue Star, and which ethnic movement was it related to?
Answer: Operation Blue Star was a military action in 1984, aiming to remove Sikh militants hiding in the Golden Temple in Amritsar; it is related to the Khalistan movement, which sought a separate Sikh country.

4. Question: Mention a critical factor that triggered the emergence of ethnic movements in India, as discussed by Dipankar Gupta.
Answer: Dipankar Gupta emphasized that ethnicity is fundamentally a political process, wherein caste and religion, the key components of identity formation, are politicized by leaders for vested interests.

5. Question: What were the primary reasons for the Assam Ethnicity conflicts involving Bodo tribals and Bengali Muslim settlers?
Answer: The Assam Ethnicity conflicts primarily stemmed from issues related to immigration, land rights, and resource allocation, leading to clashes, riots, and evolving relationships among indigenous communities to address challenges.

6. Question: Briefly describe the role of the Dravidian Movement in terms of caste and societal structure.
Answer: The Dravidian Movement, led notably by E.V. Ramasamy, aimed to establish an egalitarian society, focusing on anti-Brahmanism and advocating for equal rights for backward castes, while also introducing reforms like self-respect marriages.

7. Question: Name the prominent ethnic movements in North-East India and specify one common objective.
Answer: Prominent ethnic movements in North-East India include the Nagas’ and Mizos’ struggles; a common objective was to gain autonomy and recognition for their distinct tribal identities and cultural uniqueness.

8. Question: What is the key argument of Gail Omveldt regarding traditional Indian society and multiculturalism?
Answer: Gail Omveldt opposed romanticizing traditional Indian society, arguing that hierarchy has always dominated it and dismissing the notion that multiculturalism is an intrinsic feature of Indian society as a myth.

9. Question: Briefly explain the social hierarchy factor as a contributing element to ethnic movements as suggested by Olzak.
Answer: Olzak suggests that the construction of hierarchies among ethnic communities, which often leads to the suppression of one group by another, is a key factor that can instigate social and ethnic movements.

10. Question: Identify one consequence of the unequal economic development factor within the context of ethnic movements in India.
Answer: One consequence of unequal economic development is the marginalization and underdevelopment of certain groups, leading to feelings of alienation and sometimes initiating ethnic movements as these groups strive for equality and recognition.

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