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social situation

Definition of Social Situation

(noun) Rules for interpreting a setting and social interactions.

Social Situation Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: so·cial sit·u·a·tion

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /sOH-shuhl sich-uh-wAY-shuhn/
  • British English – /sOH-shuhl sich-u-AY-shuhn/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /ˈsoʊʃəl ˌsɪʧuˈeɪʃən/
  • British English – /ˈsəʊʃəl ˌsɪtjʊˈeɪʃən/

Usage Note

  • Plural: social situations

Related Quotations

  • “It is not our thesis that the specific nature of a religion is a simple ‘function‘ of the social situation of the stratum which appears as its characteristic bearer, or that it represents the stratum’s ‘ideology’, or that it is a ‘reflection’ of a stratum’s material or ideal interest-situation” (Weber 1948:269–70).
  • “Such an assumption seems to me to ignore the central fact about deviance: it is created by society. I do not mean this in the way it is ordinarily understood, in which the causes of deviance are located in the social situation of the deviant or in ‘social factors’ which prompt his action. I mean, rather, that social groups create deviance by making rules whose infraction constitutes deviance, and by applying those rules to particular people and labelling them as outsiders. From this point of view, deviance is not a quality of the act the person commits, but rather a consequence of the application by others of rules and sanctions to an ‘offender’. The deviant is one to whom that label has successfully been applied; deviant behaviour is behaviour that people so label” (Becker 1963:8–9).
  • Symbols are instrumental in helping people derive meaning from social interactions. In social encounters, each person’s interpretation or definition of a given situation becomes a subjective reality from that person’s viewpoint. We often assume that what we consider ‘reality’ is shared by others; however, this assumption is often incorrect” (Kendall 2006:20).

Additional Information

Related Terms


Becker, Howard Saul. 1963. Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance. New York: Free Press.

Weber, Max. 1946. “The Social Psychology of the World Religions.” Pp. 267–301 in From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, edited and translated by H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kendall, Diana. 2006. Sociology in Our Times: The Essentials. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Cite the Definition of Social Situation

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “social situation.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 18, 2024 (https://sociologydictionary.org/social-situation/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

social situation. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/social-situation/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “social situation.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 18, 2024. https://sociologydictionary.org/social-situation/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“social situation.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 18 Jun. 2024. <https://sociologydictionary.org/social-situation/>.