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SYMBOLIC INTERACTION THEORY

Symbolic interaction - also known as interactionism, is a sociological theory that places emphasis on micro-scale social interaction to provide subjective meaning in human behavior, the social process and pragmatism. - is the way we learn to interpret and give meaning to the world though our interactions with others MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS George Herbert Mead (1934) - often cited as the main contributor to symbolic interactionism - never published his theory - Meaning evolves from gestures (an action which produces a response in another) - Language is a set of shared meaning - Taking the role of the generalized other defined as the ability to extend interpersonal meanings to an entire group Herbert Blumer (1969) Mead s Student - credited with the term symbolic interactionism. He also summarized the basic assumptions of symbolic interaction from Mead s earlier work

are altered through our understandings y An individual s interpretation of the meaning will guide and determine action . their meanings differ depending on how we define and respond to them y how we define. though formed by social interaction. groups. Human beings act toward things on the basis of the meaning they have y These things do not have an inherent or unvarying meaning y Rather. structures they encounter in their environment 2. These meanings are modified through an interpretive process y the meanings of the things we encounter.3 MAJOR PREMISES OF SYMBOLIC INTERACTION THEORY 1. individuals. The meaning attributed to those things arises out of social interaction with others y We are not born knowing the meanings of things y We don t learn these meanings simply through individual experiences. or give meaning to the things we encounter will shape our actions toward them y Therefore. events. if we wish to understand human behavior we must know how people define the things objects. but rather through the interactions with others 3.

Human society consists of people engaging in symbolic interaction. one of the key influences on the development of the branch of sociology called symbolic-interactionism. The µsocial act¶ should be the fundamental unit of social psychological analysis. To understand people¶s social acts. the "me" is the socialized aspect of the person the "I"is the active aspect of the person. y 5.The ³I´ and the ³Me´ The 'I' and the 'me' are terms central to the social philosophy of George Herbert Mead. People become distinctively human through their interaction with others. The terms refer to the psychology of the individual. y 3. while the "me" is the organized set of attitudes of others which an individual assumes. y 4. we need to use methods that enable us to discern the meanings they attribute to these acts. People are conscious and self-reflective beings who actively shape their own behavior. where in Mead's understanding. People are purposeful creatures who act in and toward situations. . People are unique creatures because of their ability to use symbols. y 6. y 2. In other words. 7 Major Assumptions of Symbolic Interactionism Theory y 1. y 7. the "I" is the response of an individual to the attitudes of others.