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Symbolic Interactionism

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Presentation on theme: "Symbolic Interactionism"— Presentation transcript:

1 Symbolic Interactionism
Haley Hutton Nick Larsen Soc 401

2 Background Term "Symbolic Interactionism" coined by Herbert Blumer
Wanted to clarify how social psych. was largely interested in the social development of the individual Central task is to study how individuals develop socially as a result of participating in group life Focuses on issue of "self" and small group interactions

3 Intellectual Influences
Charles Darwin's Evolution Led Symbolic Interactionists to believe behavior is not accidental, but formed by interaction with others in social environments Scottish Moralists Believed "mind" and "self" were social products of individuals actions with others

4 Intellectual Influences cont.
German Idealism Humans construct their own realities All consciousness is conscious of something, therefore the subject and object are inevitably related Pragmatism One "true reality" does not exist Reality is actively created by human beings The meaning placed depends on the purpose of the act, context in which it's performed, and the reaction of others to the act

5 Intellectual Influences cont.
Behaviorism Need to find as simple an approach to the study of the experience of individuals from the point of view of their conduct

6 What is Symbolic Interactionism?
Based on the idea that social reality is constructed in each human interaction through the use of symbols - words, gestures, and communicating through language Studying social interaction is key to understanding human behavior Ability of actors to modify their behaviors to meet the needs of the present and immediate environment

7 Erving Goffman (1922-1982) Canadian-born sociologist and writer
The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1959) Heavily Influenced by Durkheim, Freud, Mead, Simmel

8 Erving Goffman cont. Presentation of Self
Focus on the individual as active and reflective Individual determines how the self should be presented in social situations Society is viewed as a stage, and humans are actors performing for audiences

9 Erving Goffman cont. Stigma Mark of disgrace or dishonor
Person lacks social acceptance and their self identity is negatively affected by the label Example: Arabs & Muslims after 9/11

10 Herbert Blumer ( ) Symbolic Interactionist and Social Researcher Played pro football while getting his doctorate! Huge proponent of Mead, and believed the creation of reality is a continuous process "Humans act toward things on the basics of meanings"

11 Herbert Blumer Methodology
Naturalistic Approach - Study of conduct and group life, as these occur naturally in the everyday existence of people. Need for exploratory studies... A great deal of human group life is hidden from immediate notice Social scientists generally do not have first hand, intimate familiarity with the group life they propose to study Focuses on the importance of in-depth knowledge of the group using interviews and observations, and steering away from vagueness when defining concepts

12 Arlie Russell Hochschild
American sociologist Bachelors, Masters and PH.D from Berkley The Unexpected Community The Managed Heart The Time Bind: When work becomes home and home becomes work Founder of the sociology of emotions Emotions are a biologically given sense Means by which we know about our relation to the world Critical for survival of humans in group life

13 Arlie Russell Hochschild cont
Emotion Work Trying to change, in degree or quality, an emotion or feeling Emotion Culture Consists of a series of ideas about how and what people are supposed to experience in given situations Individuals are often put in situations where emotion work needs to be performed Culture is filled with ideologies about the behaviors, attitudes and feelings that members should share

14 Criticism of Symbolic Interactionism
Overly committed the study of everyday life and social formation of the self, while ignoring social structure Overlooked class relations and constraints in favor of a more optimistic view of an open society

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