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Amanda Wilson #594648 Anthropology 1310 Paper #2 Symbolic Interaction or the “Interationist Perspective” explains social interaction as a dynamic

process in which people continually modify their behavior as a result of the interaction itself. Herbert Blumer, who originated the term symbolic interaction, asserted that people do not respond directly to the world around them, but to the meaning they bring to it- people interact according to how they perceive a situation, emphasizes the fluidity of behavior. To further demonstrate this construct, the Arapesh and Mundugumor tribes of New Guinea do not differentiate gender traits due to the ways in which their young are reared; Arapesh fathers and mothers participate in the same activities demonstrating equality. In the Mundugumor children are left to fend for themselves, learning aggression is key to survival; and since females and males possess this trait there is no real personality differentiation on the level of gender (Mead 1935/2001). On a microlevel perspective social interaction is a process governed by norms for role behavior, like gender, largely determined by culture. The context of the interaction being the key to determining role performance; a process called social construction of reality- the shaping of perception of reality by the subjective meanings brought to any experience or social interaction. Gender doesn’t exist objectively but emerges through socially constructed processes, males and females are endowed with certain traits that therefore must be found in the meanings people bring to them through their interactions with others. Social interaction is to consider role performance as an enactment in a theatrical performance, such as a script. We use strategies of impression management to interpret situations as in the context of a bar. Both men and women “stalk“ for partners, but they do it according to agreed-upon rules- a process of unspoken negotiation and choice based primarily on gender roles. A guy can’t openly say, “I’d like to buy you a drink and then copulate with you” nor can she do the same; but rather the male must open with requesting a drink and then engage in conversation with her and inquire why she is here- instrumental to seeing if she’s available, and she may instead display nonverbal communication of openness to invite such invitations as it isn’t culturally appropriate to outright verbally declare so. In particular we routinely refer to those of the other gender as the opposite sex; linguistically we tend to define ourselves by the opposite of what we are or what we

Amanda Wilson #594648 are not. Behavior then serves to separate rather than connect gender; in some cultures custom becomes law and determines marital power, occupation, and family hierarchy. This pattern exemplifies the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis of culture affecting language and language affecting culture; this makes it fundamental to understanding gender. An example of this is how masculine imagery is implied to neutral words like “person” or “it”; In American culture it is as if you are male until proven female so specifying and using the ‘he/she’ marker is understood as imperative to denote equality and inclusion of the female persona. Also occupationally our culture has emphasized that being a doctor is more of a masculine profession and being a nurse more of a female profession; in kind, we incorporate linguistic markers such as ‘male’ nurse or ‘lady’ doctor (who hilariously, often are mistaken for a gynecologist). Linguistic markers often involve affecting appendages or suffixes, a phoneme affect, where words such as poetess or usherette, exemplify such; conversely this seems to accentuate a cultural norm of females being exception to the role. Critical to demonstrating this aspect also involves discussion of what meta-message is seen in language use between gender; identity is pivotal in language. For example, the loss of a maiden name and adoption of a husband’s name has incensed feminists for years as an interpretation of masculine possession imagery. Now that gender as culture and the relationship of imagery through language has been enumerated, the next step is to see the conversational style that accentuates each gender. Sociolinguists use the term registers to indicate a variety of language defined by its use in social situations, to exhibit distinctive styles of communication. Julia Wood, as observed during an in class video, cites communication problems as the number-one cause of marital strife. Communication problems originate in the different innate conversational styles between men and women. Women communicate primarily to establish and maintain relationships, share themselves, and learn about others and their speech patterns typically reflect this through features that foster understanding, closeness, and connecting; girls are stereotypically supposed to be nurturing individuals. Equity is also important as empathy demonstrated through matching experiences which may in turn develop complementary schizogenesis; where trying to tell a story in order to get more information only leads to boredom in males as the content becomes muddled in the

Amanda Wilson #594648 context. Schizogenesis is a result of a conversational process where one speaker engages in an act to promote the same in the partner speaker which in turn promotes them to go to the extreme end of their speaking styles- a speaker speaks louder to promote the other speaker to talk louder, the other speaker becomes quieter to promote the other speaker to follow. Thusly they have a very interactive and inclusive style prompting them to invite others into speak and elaborate, the pausing and pacing allow for more moments of interjection. The use of qualifying statements or tagging of statements is also a part of inclusivity; examples of tentative tagging/qualifying statements include: “That was a beautiful ceremony, wasn’t it?”, or “I may be wrong but-”. The style is very personal and often cultivates a personal tone by including anecdotes, intimate personal disclosures in uncertainty reduction techniques. Ways this socialization can be acquired may stem from child’s play- girls often play games like house in small groups, where no preset rules or goals are established. Hence, talking amongst each other is necessary, as well as fosters a process of interaction where communication becomes the goal itself (not content) and reflects normative communication patterns, while attempting to interpret another’s message. Conversely boys games are competitive with clear cut rules, like football, status is emphasized as standing out or being better and emotional responses as anything but anger are frowned upon. If you’ve ever seen a coach yelling loudly to maintain attention, prove dominance or speak curtly, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Negotiation then stands forward as a reason for conversational discourse assertion, competition, and attracting, while maintaining an audience is the style involved. This develops in masculine speech patterns through various styles, most prominent of these is the need to defend or negotiate as a reason to speak. Emotions are supported by respecting independence and avoiding communication. They disclose personal information in order to prevent a one-down position, and instead convey knowledge, skill or expertise as giving advice; instances of females telling males about a bad day can lead to hurt feelings as females feel emotionally neglected when given advice, where as males see sympathy as condescending. This is critical because men are competitive and any time they feel they are not on top they must assert themselves; this also serves to reinforce the complementary schizogenesis developing. They are very blunt because communication is to be about instrumentality of objectives; the point of

Amanda Wilson #594648 speaking is about accomplishing something. The point to command an audience leads to faster pacing, fewer pauses, interruption and overlap; this frequently makes females feel as though they are not being listened to or that their contribution is not important hinging mainly on the fact that women are tentative speakers but men are not. Males are also, often confused by the general abstractness that women use to gain understanding as their assumption is that the point should be clear. Basically neither gender conversational style is deficient; both exemplify and accentuate the nature they are taught to adopt culturally. Communication errors are a lack of understanding the reason for style variances and meta-message incomprehension by misperceived motives and meanings. Flexibility and comprehension of communication is a great way to avoid problems and gain power.