Importance of Social Interaction

Importance of Social Interaction

The importance of social interaction: Building Relationships, Fostering Community, and Providing Support. Social interaction is crucial for human well-being and success within the social order. It fosters empathy, communication, conflict, and other vital skills. However, in today’s digital age, many need help interacting socially, both in the real world and on digital platforms. Recognizing its value and actively participating is essential for personal and societal growth.

1. Introduction

What is the importance of social interactions within your community? Social interaction is essential to human life (e.g., between friends, family members, and people of different origins and social status). Society creates your social being and transforms you via social interaction.

Social interaction refers to engaging with others in a community or society as limited by the social order. Social interaction aims to cultivate a sense of belongingbuild relationships, and gain social support within our social environment. Engaging with others is vital in forming our attitudes, beliefs, and values. Interacting in society is an indispensable aspect of human life that significantly impacts our outlook on the world. This piece will explore the importance of social interaction and its various purposes.

Human society revolves around social interactions, critical in shaping our relationships, culture, and economy. Social scientists have studied the factors that drive these interactions for decades, with Becker’s theory of social interaction being one of the most influential frameworks for analysis. By exploring this theory, we gain insight into what motivates individuals to engage in social behavior, and we can apply this knowledge to both digital and analog social networks in society.

2. Building Relationships

One of the primary purposes of social interaction is to establish and maintain enriching relationships with other members of society. By no means do social interactions only provide gains and positive outcomes, but they can also create tensions between community members, which we call social conflicts. While interacting with others, our levels of trust, care, love, and understanding of other members of society adjust, leading to long-lasting friendships and partnerships if the social interactions fulfill a certain intrinsic or extrinsic benefit threshold. Social interaction helps us to learn from others, gain new perspectives, and expand our knowledge and skills.

Managing our routines and overcoming societal constraints to prioritize building healthy relationships with other members of society is essential in our fast-paced world. Social interactions help us to develop a social network of individuals with whom we can share our experiences, thoughts, and feelings. This support system can be invaluable during challenging times, as we can turn to our friends and loved ones for emotional and practical support. On the other hand, social interactions get us out of our comfort zones. We encounter the challenge of learning new environments. Remember your first day at school, away from your by-then-known social environment. How did it shape you?

3. Fostering Community

Another purpose of social interaction is to foster a sense of belonging and community. Engaging with others can build a sense of shared identity and purpose. Such social engagements can lead to greater satisfaction and fulfillment as we feel connected to something larger than ourselves.

When participating in social activities, we become part of individuals with shared experiences and interests. Such activities include anything from a book club to a sports team or volunteer organization. We can create a sense of community and belonging by working together towards a common goal. This sense of belonging can be vital for individuals feeling isolated or disconnected from society.

4. Providing support

Social interaction also provides us with social support. When we face difficult times or challenges, we can turn to our social networks for emotional and practical support. Such support can help us to cope with stress, overcome obstacles, and achieve our goals.

We can receive many types of social support from our social networks. Emotional support involves listening, empathizing, and providing comfort. Instrumental support includes providing practical assistance, such as offering a ride or helping with household chores. Informational support consists of giving advice or guidance. All of these types of support can be helpful during challenging times.

5. Examples of Social Interactions for Community Empowerment

Social interactions that bring you together with other members of society can be an excellent way to foster a sense of community. You can organize social interactions around common interests, shared experiences, social welfare, or goals. One example of such an interaction could be a community garden, where you gather to grow vegetables and fruits. This interaction can help you connect to promote healthy nutrition and a sustainable lifestyle.

Another example of a social interaction that can foster a sense of community could be a book club. When you come together to discuss a book you have read, you share your thoughts on the book and get to know each other better. This interaction can be organized in person or online and can be an excellent way to meet new people with similar interests.

Volunteering could also be another social interaction that can bring people together and helps to improve social welfare. Volunteering your time and skills to help others positively impacts your community and builds strong connections with the people you work with. You can organize this interaction by volunteering in non-profit organizations, religious groups, or simply by yourself as an individual who wants to make a difference in your community.

6. Examples of Social Conflicts

Since the existence of humanity, social conflicts have been a companion in their social interactions due to differences in ideas, beliefs, values, culture, and economic status. We can classify them into three main types: interpersonal, intergroup, and structural conflicts.

Interpersonal conflicts occur between individuals during social interactions, and misunderstandings, personality clashes, and differences in communication styles can cause them. For instance, disagreements between coworkers with different working styles can lead to interpersonal conflict.

Intergroup conflicts arise between different societal groups due to group-level aggregation of interest, such as political, economic, ethnic, or religious groups — discrimination, prejudice, and stereotyping between societal groups cause such intergroup conflicts. For example, the confrontation between ethnicities causes worldwide intergroup conflicts that cause both benefit and harm to both sides of divergence, e.g., civil conflict in Chad, Kosovo-Serbia, Sudan, USA, Germany, and almost all countries around the world.

Structural conflicts arise due to the unequal distribution of power and resources within a society. These conflicts can occur due to economic inequality, political oppression, and social injustice. For instance, the gender pay gap, migration, trade imbalances, and military occupations can lead to structural conflict.

7. Integrating Social Interaction into Economic Behavioral Research

Behavioral economists analyze human behavior within social settings, considering various factors like legal, political, and financial constraints, along with limited resources and information. They also explore how people make strategic choices when participating in social games such as market, network, and organizational interactions. Although Game theory’s profound theoretical and mathematic approaches remain popular in current behavioral research, they need more realism in explaining real-life behavior to the general public in an understandable eloquence. 

That begins with the theory of choice, where students learn how to describe the rational behavior of individuals under ideological assumptions of neoclassical and classical theories of economics. The game theory integrates preferences to display players’ satisfaction with the outcomes during sequential or simultaneous social interactions. Where utility as a measure of preference doesn’t apply, behavioral economists apply profit or loss equations, e.g., while analyzing social games involving firms and governments.

8. Revisiting Gary S. Becker and Theory of Social Interaction

A groundbreaking example is Becker’s (1974) theory of social interaction, which serves as starting point for ideas of social networks, both digital and analog interactions in society. According to Becker (1974), people engage in social interactions to maximize their utility, which depends on the following factors:

  • The basic wants of each member of society define the individual production of the following
  •  Commodities and services offered in markets as locations of exchange
  •  Time is a scarce resource invested by the individual in social interactions (See Becker, 1965)
  •  Environmental variables such as education, experience, and social order
  •  Characteristics of other persons affect the output produced to satisfy the basic wants of the individual.

Another model of social interaction is the Theory of Marriage from Becker (19731974), which analyzes marriage as an essential interaction between members of society in a market setting. Becker shows the potential limits of market exchange in interactions in the marriage market and delineates marketable commodities from non-marketable commodities within households. Marriage as a form of social interaction produces both harmonious and conflicting outcomes.

In another article, Becker (1965) emphasizes the need to incorporate the allocation of time as a scarce resource in behavioral economics. To interact socially, people must spend time (e.g., hours of a lifetime) in an activity that leads to social engagement. For instance, why should family members, friends, or spouses spend time together? Time is a none renewable resource to each individual in society, and all that happens in their lifetime occurs on a limited timeline. Time forgone in unnecessary activity; you will never recover. Therefore, time undeniably influences the quantity and quality of social interactions.

As discussed above, social interactions are sources of positive and negative conflicts of interest, benefits, and costs. Individuals engage in activities that balance their individual and societal needs in their social order. For example, people living in a democratic society expect to engage in a specific design of social interactions compared to those living in an autocratic society. They set the rules of their daily social games by choosing and shaping their social order via constitutions, legislation, law enforcement, firms, and market coordination.

In the article, Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach, Becker (1968) analyzes the impact of social interactions that cause social damage in a community, deriving both the demand for crimes and the supply of crime as determined by the probability of offenders receiving punishment and the cost of the penalty. Social interactions are affected by both negative and positive externalities that cause social costs of interactions, e.g., discrimination, aggression, love, and generosity (See Coase (1960)). Crime in social interaction is an unjust behavior perceived by the individual in the context of the existing social order in a community, which causes social conflict

9. Conclusion

In conclusion, social interaction aims to establish and maintain relationships, foster a sense of belonging and community, and provide social support. Engaging with others can gain new perspectives, expand our knowledge and skills, and develop an understanding of shared identity and purpose. Social interaction is an essential component of human life that contributes to our overall well-being and happiness. As such, making time for social activities, prioritizing building relationships, and fostering community is essential.

In conclusion, social conflicts are prevalent and can significantly impact individuals and communities. By understanding the three broad types of disputes that can arise, we can work towards resolving them and creating a more peaceful and equitable society for everyone.

10. Literature for Further Reading

Becker, G. S. (1968). Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach. Journal of Political Economy, 76(2), 169–217. JSTOR. Cite
Becker, G. S. (1962). Investment in Human Capital: A Theoretical Analysis. Journal of Political Economy, 70(5), 9–49. JSTOR. Cite
Becker, G. S. (1974). A Theory of Marriage: Part II. Journal of Political Economy, 82(2), S11–S26. JSTOR. Cite
Becker, G. S. (1973). A Theory of Marriage: Part I. Journal of Political Economy, 81(4), 813–846. JSTOR. Cite
Becker, G. S. (1965). A Theory of the Allocation of Time. The Economic Journal, 75(299), 493. Cite
Becker, G. S. (1974). A Theory of Social Interactions. Journal of Political Economy, 82(6), 1063–1093. JSTOR. Cite
Chuang, Y., & Schechter, L. (2015). Social Networks in Developing Countries. Annual Review of Resource Economics, 7, 451–472. Cite
Natile, S. (2020). Digital Finance Inclusion and the Mobile Money “Social” Enterprise: A Socio-Legal Critique of M-Pesa in Kenya. Historical Social Research / Historische Sozialforschung, 45(3), 74–94. Cite
Mavodza, E. (2019). Mobile Money and the Human Economy: Towards Sustainable Livelihoods for Zimbabwean Migrants in South Africa. Africa Development / Afrique et Développement, 44(3), 107–130. Cite