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Symbolic Interactionism

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Symbolic Interactionism

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  • July 2013
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8 May 2013
Communication Theories
Final Paper

In this final paper I will be discussing Symbolic Interactionism Theory. First I will discuss the theory itself, and the basic tenants that were created by George Herbert Mead, and then continue on to further explain his theory by addressing relevant literature on the theory itself. Next, I will be discussing how the theory is utilized within communication, followed by a real life application of this specific theory. Then, ending with a general final importance of communication theory.

Symbolic interactionism theory is an socio-cultural, interpretive theory established by George Herbert Mead. “Symbolic interactionism isn’t just talk. The term refers to the language and gestures a person uses in anticipation of the way others will respond” (Griffin, 2012, p. 54). There are three core principles of symbolic interactionism, which include meaning, language, and thinking. “Meaning is central to human behavior in the sense that humans act toward people and things based on the meaning that they have attributed to those people or things” (Smit, 2008, p. 3). It is the interpretation of a response that counts, which is negotiated through the use of language. Meaning arises from the social interaction that people have with one another. Without language, we would not be able to interact and understand concepts that other people may share. “An individual’s interpretation of symbols is modified by his or her own thought process” (Griffin, 2012, p. 58). Thinking is an inner conversation that you have with yourself; Mead (1931) called this inner dialogue minding. Minding is the delay in-between conversation where you map out what you are going to say next. People naturally talk to themselves in order to conclude meaning of difficult situations that they may not understand, but in order to be able to think, we must be able to symbolically interact. Language does not come automatically; we must interact with both our self and...