Symbolic Interaction

Topics: Sociology, Symbolic interactionism, Erving Goffman Pages: 3 (722 words) Published: August 5, 2013

Symbolic Interactionism as put forward by Herbert Blumer, is the process of interaction in the formation of meanings for individuals. With this as his inspiration, He outlined Symbolic Interactionism, a study of human group life and conduct. The symbolic interactionists perspective in sociology, aims to view society as a product of everyday social interactions among the individuals. Symbolic interactionists also focus on how people use symbols to create meaning. While studying deviance, these theorists look at how people in everyday situations define deviance, which differs between cultures and settings. Blumer came up with three core principles to his theory. They were:  meaning, language, and thought.  These core principles lead to conclusions about the creation of a person's self and socialization into a larger community. The first major principle of meaning states that humans act toward people and things based upon the meanings that they have given to those people or things. Symbolic Interactionism holds the principal of meaning as central in human behaviour. The second principle is language. Language gives humans a means to negotiate meaning through symbols. Mead's influence on Blumer becomes apparent here because Mead believed that naming assigned meaning, thus naming was the basis for human society and the extent of knowledge. It is by engaging in speech acts with others, symbolic interaction, that humans come to identify meaning, or naming, and develop discourse. The third core principle is that of thought. Thought modifies each individual's interpretation of symbols. Thought, based-on language, is a mental conversation or dialogue that requires role taking, or imagining different points of view. Symbolic interaction theory analyzes society by addressing the subjective meanings that people impose on objects, events,...

References: Key publications
Blumer, Herbert. 1969. Symbolic Interactionism: Perspective and Method. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Griffin, E. (1997). A first look at Communication Theory. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies.
Garfinkel, Harold. (1967). Studies in Ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Goffman, Erving. (1958). The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, Social Sciences Research Centre.
Ed. by McDermott, J. (1981). The Philosophy of John Dewey, Chicago.
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