Symbolic Interactionism originated with two key theorists, George Herbert Mead and Charles Horton Cooley. George Herbert Mead was a proponent of this theory and believed that the true test of any theory was that "It was useful in solving complex social problems"
The term "symbolic interactionism" has come into use as a label for a relatively distinctive approach to the study of human life and human conduct. The symbolic interaction perspective, also called symbolic interactionism, is a major framework of sociological theory. This perspective relies on the symbolic meaning that people develop and rely upon in the process of social interaction.
With Symbolic interactionism, reality is seen as social, developed interaction with others. Most symbolic interactionists believe a physical reality does indeed exist by an individual's social definitions, and that social definitions do develop in part or relation to something “real.” People thus do not respond to this reality directly, but rather to the social understanding of reality. Humans therefore exist in three realities: a physical objective reality, a social reality, and a unique reality
Both individuals and society cannot be separated far from each other for two reasons. One, being that they are both created through social interaction, and two, one cannot be understood in terms without the other. Behavior is not defined by forces from the environment such as drives, or instincts, but rather by a reflective, socially understood meaning of both the internal and external incentives that are currently presented
Herbert Blumer (1969) set out three basic premises of the perspective: * "Humans act toward things on the basis of the meanings they ascribe to those things." * "The meaning of such things is derived from, or arises out of, the social interaction that one has with others and the society." * "These meanings are handled in, and modified through, an interpretative process used by the person in dealing with the things he/she encounters."
Symbolic interaction theory analyzes society by addressing the subjective meanings that people impose on objects, events, and behaviors. Subjective meanings are given primacy because it is believe that people behave based on what they believe and not just on what is objectively true. Thus, society is thought to be socially constructed through human interpretation. People interpret one another’s behavior and it is these interpretations that form the social bond. These interpretations are called the “definition of the situation.” For example, why would young people smoke cigarettes even when all objective medical evidence points to the dangers of doing so? The answer is in the definition of the situation that people create. Studies find that teenagers are well informed about the risks of tobacco, but they also think that smoking is cool, that they themselves will be safe from harm, and that smoking projects a positive image to their peers. So, the symbolic meaning of smoking overrides that actual facts regarding smoking and risk.
Critics of this theory claim that symbolic interactionism neglects the macro level of social interpretation—the “big picture.” In other words, symbolic interactionists may miss the larger issues of society by focusing too closely on the “trees” rather than the “forest”. The perspective also receives criticism for slighting the influence of social forces and institutions on individual interactions.
Dialectical theory is a concept within communication theory. This concept could be interpreted as "a knot of contradictions in personal relationships or an unceasing interplay between contrary or opposing tendencies." The theory, first proposed respectively by Leslie Baxter and W. K. Rawlins in 1988, defines communication patterns between relationship partners as the result of endemic dialectical tensions. In their description of Relational Dialectics,...
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