Man is a socio-cultural being and society is both natural and necessary for man. It is difficult for men to live in isolation. They always live in various groups and associations and act in a certain manner. The behavior of each individual is affected by the behavior of others. This interaction is the essence of life. Thus, social interaction refers to the entire range of social relationships between individuals. Social interaction is the foundation of society. It is the very essence of social life. Thus, it can be said that interaction is the basic social process, the broadest term tor describing dynamic social relationships.
According to Merrill and Eldredge, “Social interaction is the general process whereby two or more persons are in meaningful contact as a result of which their behavior is modified however slightly.”
According to Dawson and Gettys, “Social interaction is a process whereby men interpenetrate the minds of each other.” Processes of social interaction:
Social interaction mainly takes place in two processes, such as, associative and dissociative processes.
The associative processes of social interaction are of a positive type of interaction. This type of interaction brings progress and stability in the society.
(1) Co-operation, (2) Accommodation, and (3) Assimilation
Co-operation is the first fundamental and associative process of social interaction. It is an integrating activity and is believed to be the opposite of competition. The word ‘co-operation’ has been derived from the Latin words ‘co’ meaning together and ‘operarf meaning ‘work’. Thus, co-operation generally means working together for achievement of common goal. Fairchield defines co-operation as “the process by which individuals or groups combine their effort, in a more or less organised way for the attainment of common objective”. Merrill and Eldredge defines cooperation as “a form of social interaction wherein two or more persons work together to gain a common end.”
Characteristics of co-operation
(1) Co-operation is a conscious process.
(2) Co-operation is a continuous process.
(3) Co-operation is a universal process.
(4) Co-operation is a personal process.
(5) Co-operation is an associative process of social interaction which takes place between two or more individuals.
Role of co-operation:
All the progress that mankind has made in the various fields to be attributed to the co-operating spirit of the people. The initial success of man in his flight to moon is also the result of co-operation. Co-operation for human is both a psychological and social necessity. It creates direct contact between the individual and individual, group and group. Cooperation maintains the balance in the society.
Life cannot go along if groups are engaged in conflicts. Therefore, conflict must be resolved for making social life peaceful. Accommodation is resolution of conflict, which means adjusting oneself to the new environment. Accommodation is an associative process of social interaction. Lundberg defines accommodation as “the adjustments which people in group make to relieve the tension of competition and conflict” Maclver defines accommodation as “a process in which man attains a sense of harmony with his environment’. Ogburn and Nimkoff define, “Accommodation is a term used by the sociologists to describe the adjustment of hostile individual or groups.”
Characteristics of accommodation:
(1) Accommodation is the result of conflict. If there were no conflict there would be no accommodation.
(2) It is a mixture of both love and hatred.
(3) It is a universal process.
(4) It is a continuous process.
Role and importance of accommodation:
Society hardly goes on without accommodation. Accommodation checks conflicts and maintains co-operation in social life. It enables the individuals to adjust themselves to changed conditions. Thus, it not only reduces or controls conflicts but also maintains the necessary security of a social order without which it may be difficult for individuals to carry on their life-activities together. Society is essentially the result of accommodation. Assimilation:
Assimilation is the process where persons and groups acquire the culture of the other group in which they come to live, by adopting its attitude and values, its patterns of thinking and behaving. In short, it is a way of life. Assimilation is another associative process of social interaction. According to E. A. Bogardus, “Assimilation is a process whereby attitude of many individuals are united and thus developed into a united group.”
Characteristics of assimilation:
(1) Assimilation is an universal process.
(2) It is a slow and gradual process.
(3) It is ah associative process which is closely related to accommodation.
(4) It is a cultural and psychological process.
(5) It is also an unconscious process.
(6) It is not a simple but a complex process.
Role and importance of assimilation:
Like socialization, assimilation is a process of learning, but it starts when the individual comes in contact with other cultures. Assimilation is a social and psychological process. It is a result rather than a process. The social contacts thus established finally result in assimilation. The speed of the process of assimilation depends on the nature of the contacts. The ancient culture of India provides a number of examples of assimilation. The Aryans assimilated the Dravidian ideas. The Hindus and the Muslims in India through their prolonged living assimilated the culture of each other.