Symbolic interactionism

6 June 2017

Mead was undoubtedly the Individual who “transformed the inner structure of the theory, moving It to a higher level of theoretical complexity. ” (Herman-Kinney Reynolds Herbert Blumer, a student and nterpreter of Mead, coined the term and put forward an influential summary of the perspective: people act toward things based on the meaning those things have for them; and these meanings are derived from social interaction and modified through interpretation.

Blumer was a social constructionist,and was influenced by Dewey as such this theory is very phenomenologically based. He believed that the “Most human and humanizing activity that people engage In Is talking to each other” (Griffin Two other theorists who have Influenced Symbolic Interaction theory are Yrjd Engestr¶m and David Middleton. Engestr¶m and Middleton explained he usefulness of symbolic interactionism in the communication field in a “variety of work setting including, courts of law, health care, computer software design, scientific laboratory, telephone sales, control, repair, and maintenance of advance manufacturing systems.

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3] Other scholars credited for their contribution to the theory are Thomas, Park, James, Horton, Cooley, Znanleckl, Baldwin, Redfield, and Wirth. [4] Basic premises and approach[editl 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 (Blumer, 1939). 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[clariflcatlon 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 or inner forces such as drives, or instincts, but rather by a reflective, socially understood meaning of both the internal and external incentives that are currently presented (Meltzer et al. , 1975). [5] 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 ne 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. ” The first premise includes everything that a human being may note in their world, including physical objects, actions and concepts. Essentially, individuals behave towards objects and others based on the personal meanings that the individuals has already given these items.

The second premise explains the meaning of such things is derived from, or arises out of, the social interaction that one has with other humans. Blumer, following Mead, claimed people interact with each other by interpreting or defining each other’s actions instead of merely reacting to each other’s actions. Their ‘response’ is not made directly to the actions of one another but instead is based on the meaning which they attach to such actions. Thus, human interaction is mediated by the use of symbols and signification, by interpretation, or by ascertaining the meaning of one another’s actions (Blumer 1962).

Meaning is either taken for granted and pushed aside as unimportant[clarification needed] or it is regarded as a mere neutral link[clariflcation needed] between the factors esponsible for human behavior and this behavior as the product of such factors. (Blumer 1969). Language is the source of meaning[dubious – discuss][citation needed] and is negotiated through the use of it. We have the ability to name things and designate objects or actions to a certain idea or phenomenon. The use of symbols is a popular procedure for interpretation and intelligent expression.

Blumer contrasted this process with behaviorist explanations of human behavior, which does not allow for interpretation between. In Blumer’s third premise the idea of minding comes into play. Symbolic nteractionists describe thinking as an inner conversation. (Griffin 62). Mead called this inner dialogue minding. Minding is the delay in one’s thought process that happens when one thinks about what they will do next. The third premise is that these meanings are handled in, and modified through, an interpretative process[6] used by the person in dealing with the things he encounters.

We naturally talk to ourselves in order to sort out the meaning of a difficult situation. But first, we need language. Before we can think, we must be able to interact symbolically. (Griffin 62). brought on attention to the roles people play. Role-taking is a key mechanism that permits people to see another person’s perspective to understand what an action might mean to another person. Role-taking is a part of our lives at an early age. Playing house and pretending to be someone else are examples of this phenomena. There is an improvisational quality of roles; however, actors often take on a script that they follow.

Because of the uncertainty of roles in social contexts, the burden of role-making is on the person in the situation. In this sense, we are proactive participants in our environment. [7] Mind, Self and Society[edit] Mind, Self and Society” is the book published by Mead’s students based on his lectures and teaching. The title of the book serves as the key concepts of symbolic interaction theory. The mind refers to an individual’s ability to use symbols to create meanings for the world around him. Individuals use language and thought to accomplish this goal.

Self refers to an individual’s ability to reflect on the way that he/ she is perceived by others. Finally, society, according to Mead is where all of these interactions are taking place. The “l” and the While establishing the idea of self, Mead introduces a distinction between the “l” and he “me”, respectively, the active and socialized aspects of the person. The “me” is a similar concept to Cooley’s looking-glass self. An example of these concepts is the pygmalion effect whereby a person (l) behaves to match the sense of self (me) they derive from others, in a form of self-fulfilling prophecy.

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