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symbolic interactionism

By melesposito Mar 26, 2014 744 Words
The question was asked, how can understanding and using symbolic interactionism theory help in your everyday life? Why or why not? First we need to look further into the theory and see how it applies to life in general. The symbolic interaction approach states that society exists due to the everyday interactions of people and describes the family as a unit of interacting personalities. The theory focuses attention on the way that people interact through symbols: words, gestures, rules and roles. Individuals develop both a concept of self and their identities through social interaction. Symbolic interactionism is the way we learn to interpret and give meaning to the world through our interactions with others. According to this theory, humans are very different from animals. Humans when put into situations will look at and respond differently depending on the surroundings and actions of others, where animals voluntarily respond to the environment. Humans have the ability to change in every situation and to further change depending on the group of people they are interacting with. Humans think about others opinions of them and adjust their own conduct by comparing themselves with others. It is said through imagination, a person will be able to gain a deeper understanding of behavior and see how it is influenced by your surroundings. Humans act based on symbolic meanings. We have the ability to interact with the symbols, be it words, facial expressions and non verbal cues people exchange. I believe it has played a major role in many aspects of my life even before I had knowledge of the theory. I, being an only child for many years received the label responsible before I had even proved to be, let me explain further. The interactions I had were mainly with adults, so being a child I began to role play and adjust my behavior to different situations. I can see now that I began to be the way I thought adults wanted me to be, which was responsible. I spent most of my time with my mother so I began to copy her actions. I had a difficult time understanding the actions of children because I didn’t have to stay at a daycare and I didn’t interact with many children so they seemed odd and out of the norm to me, I can recall spending many hours alone in my room cleaning and organizing my things just as my mother would do in the rest of the house. Learning about this theory has made me realize that my actions as a child were due to the everyday interactions I had with my mother. I now see how her influence has affected me and how learning from her has made me the adult I am today. The theory states society expects a person to act a certain way in situations and thus this becomes what is expected or the norm and I now see how what was expected of me as a young child has become my norm and has followed me through my life so far. In a sense I was an adult when I was a child because of my surroundings and the influence of the people around me. I can recall as a youngster in elementary school I was the child the teacher would ask to watch the class while she stepped out and I would agree but as soon as she had left the room I would act like my group of peers, caving to their influence on me. In my later years I often wondered why I acted the way I did, but I now feel I have a better understanding due to this so called theory. Learning about this theory has made me understand my actions better. I can also remember times when my mother would just have to glance at me with a certain look and I would know what she was saying without saying a word so that brings me to the conclusion that all humans form their language be it verbal or non verbal from the people in their lives. In my opinion symbolic interactionism has an effect on all of us every day of our lives and influences how we act in situations throughout our lives. Having a better understanding of this theory has brought me to the conclusion that it has played a major role in my life. Works Cited: Introduction to Sociology: A Collaborative Approach, Third Edition.

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