Symbolic interactionism is a social psychological theory developed from the work George Herbert Mead in the early part of the twentieth century. According to this theory, people inhabit a world that is in large part socially constructed. In particular, the meaning of objects, events, and behaviors comes from the interpretation people give them, and interpretations vary from one group to another. There are three main elements to symbolic interactionism:
1. The symbol: Symbolic interactionism assumes that individuals place meanings on objects in the environment, and it is these meanings that determine their behavior. Mead claims that for sense to be made of the real world and the actions of other individuals there must be shared symbols. The world is, therefore, made up of symbols that are created by humans to give meaning or order in society. 2. The Self: Mead refers to persons in society as ‘actors’. He believes that we assert ourselves through social construction in a social process where individuals interact and internalize how they are perceived. Their notion of self is referred by him as ‘I’ and the notion that others perceive us is ‘Me’. The process of interpretation of meanings in deemed ‘role-taking’. Mead argues that through the process of role-taking individuals develop a concept of ‘self’. 3. The Interaction: Interaction is not possible according to Mead unless individuals are aware of the intention of others. The process ‘role-taking’ involves one person taking on the role of another by imaginatively placing themselves in the position of the person with whom they are interacting. * Game stage
Symbolic Interactionism emphasizes three principles:
1. Ascribed Meanings: The actions of human beings are based on the meanings that they ascribe to objects or things. 2. Communication: The meanings which individuals place on things have evolved out of their interaction and...
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