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SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM: THE BASIC PRINCIPLES
By- Ms. Sarita Khalko
There are significant differences within symbolic interactionism but some
interactionists (Blumer, Manis and Meltzer, A.Rose) have tried to enumerate
the basic principles of the theory. These principles are-
1- Human beings, unlike lower animals are endowed with the capacity for
thought.
2- The capacity for thought is shaped by social interaction.
3- In social interaction people learn the meaning and thesymbols that allow
them to exercise their distinctively human capacity for thought.
4- Meaning and symbols allow people to carry on distinctively human
action and interaction.
5- People are able to modify or alter the meanings and symbols that they use
in action and interaction on the basis of their interpretation of the
situation.
6- People are able to make these modifications and alternations because, in
part, of their ability to interact with themselves, which allows them to
examine possible courses of action, assess their relative advantages and
disadvantages and then choose one.
7- The intertwined patterns of action and interaction make up groups and
societies.
The human beings possess the ability to think differentiates Symbolic
Interactionism from its behaviorist roots. This assumption also provides
the basis for the entire theoretical orientation of symbolic interactionism.
Assumption of the human capacity for thought is one of the major
contributions of early symbolic interactionists.
George Herbert Mead
By- Ms. Sarita Khalko
Mead is the most important thinker in the history of SYMBOLIC
INTERACTIONISM which is form in a book “Mind, Self and Society”
His study base of Sociology is social psychology.
It was primary concerned with the study of the society (social world- social
experience) and individual relationship. It was related to nature and importance of
group membership to individual behavior.
Example- the whole society is prior to the part (the individual) not the whole in
terms of the part/ parts. For study data of society- social act.
Cooley- Importance of human imagination human’s mental cognizance of social
world.
Mead- Resulting act of this consciousness awareness.
(Both are similar in a way—>Sociological challenge is in the study of human
social life as sympathetic analysis and understanding of interaction processes of
individual).
According to Mead symbolic interaction “ An evolutionary developed Social Skill
necessary for any kind of meaningful encounter of individuals where language is a
one major evolving out of need for individual to cooperate in a rational way.
Language in its beginning form of gesture→ primordial social act.
Physical gesture- twinkling of an eye, the motion of a hand, curl of a lip, raised
eyebrow.
Gesture is the seed bed of language and the essential prerequisite of all intellectual
activity.
Theory- mind, self, society
Mind- (1) It develops with the child’s capacity to distinguish his and other non-
sense motions and significant gestures/ conventional gestures.
Example- child experiments with his gesture until he can mimic not only its
physical appearance but also to convey others it symbol meaning.
(2) By Gesture and language child develops the capacity to assume the
posture/ perspective of the person who’s he is interact. With this child is able to
conceptualize another point of view. “Take the role of the others”.
Mind in was when child is able to—
(1) Understand and use conventional gesture.
(2) To employ the gesture to take the role of the other.
(3) To imaginatively rehearse alternative lines of action.
(Process of Intellectual activity).
Self- (1) for Cooley- mind- produces communication.
Mead- Mind- it arises with in communication begins with random
Gesture- (I) verbal
(II)Nonverbal
(2) As father of symbolic action give meaning of
Gesture - A social act operates as a stimulus for the response of another
Organism engaged in a same act.
Symbol- A significant gesture conveys a meaning to which only human
beings can respond. These are significant because self-conscious quality in man
where as self’s essence as reflective in self awareness.
Individual can be both an object- Me
Subject- I to himself.
(3) Self- as self image, self concept, taking role of the other, significant others
Society- (i) It is third dimension in perspective of the social world. Self and mind
serve as the interaction ingredients eventuate in social order.
(ii) Society is a human construction, organized activity essentially
regulated by the generalized other and where the individuals make adjustments and
cooperate with one another.
(iii) Individual adjusts in society between complex interactional
adjustments- conflict, compromise, innovation, cooperation as human
communications.
(iv) Mind and self negotiate the parameters and operational rules of
social dispose. Orders and Institutions are altered, reconstructed disassembled.
(v) Social change, consequently both likely and unpredictable because of
the Dynamics of human interaction (in likely), unpredictable due to the freedom of
spontaneous Unity in mind and self.
(vi) Social Institutions represent the organized and patterned interaction
(variety of individuals) depends for emergence and resistance upon mind and self.
Self is made up of- I and me
I -- Represents the impulsive tendencies and spontaneous behavior of the
human infant, behavior which is unconditioned and disciplined. Aware of himself
as a subject because the impulsive behavior of I cannot be predicted.
Me --It is the social components of self internalize demands of society. The
process of continuous interaction with parents and significant others gives rise to
the concept of ME enables the individual to restrain and regulate the behavior of
I accordance with the established norms of group/ society. It is the individual of
aware of him as object. Me as the generalized other internalized.
Self—- Consciousness emerges in three evolutionary stages.
(A) The stage of imitative acts (Second year of child life Mimics the
mannerisms and behavioral pattern of his parents).
(B) The play stage (about third year of child life as child’s growing interest
in assuming various roles of his significant others example—play role of
mother, father, younger sister etc).
(C) The game stage- (it is a stage of self consciousness developed during
unified self images. Child developed the capacity to take the role of the
others, as one/ other roll but also able to assume the attitudes of several
people comprising his social group all at one time. This stage is very
complex and indicates real maturity in consciousness of the self and others.
Functions of self and others- (i) communication
(ii) Analysis of situation
(iii) Self direction and self control
(iv) Self judgment
(v) Identity
(vi) My I and problem solving
G. H Mead.docx

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G. H Mead.docx

  • 1. SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM: THE BASIC PRINCIPLES By- Ms. Sarita Khalko There are significant differences within symbolic interactionism but some interactionists (Blumer, Manis and Meltzer, A.Rose) have tried to enumerate the basic principles of the theory. These principles are- 1- Human beings, unlike lower animals are endowed with the capacity for thought. 2- The capacity for thought is shaped by social interaction. 3- In social interaction people learn the meaning and thesymbols that allow them to exercise their distinctively human capacity for thought. 4- Meaning and symbols allow people to carry on distinctively human action and interaction. 5- People are able to modify or alter the meanings and symbols that they use in action and interaction on the basis of their interpretation of the situation. 6- People are able to make these modifications and alternations because, in part, of their ability to interact with themselves, which allows them to examine possible courses of action, assess their relative advantages and disadvantages and then choose one. 7- The intertwined patterns of action and interaction make up groups and societies. The human beings possess the ability to think differentiates Symbolic Interactionism from its behaviorist roots. This assumption also provides the basis for the entire theoretical orientation of symbolic interactionism. Assumption of the human capacity for thought is one of the major contributions of early symbolic interactionists.
  • 2. George Herbert Mead By- Ms. Sarita Khalko Mead is the most important thinker in the history of SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM which is form in a book “Mind, Self and Society” His study base of Sociology is social psychology. It was primary concerned with the study of the society (social world- social experience) and individual relationship. It was related to nature and importance of group membership to individual behavior. Example- the whole society is prior to the part (the individual) not the whole in terms of the part/ parts. For study data of society- social act. Cooley- Importance of human imagination human’s mental cognizance of social world. Mead- Resulting act of this consciousness awareness. (Both are similar in a way—>Sociological challenge is in the study of human social life as sympathetic analysis and understanding of interaction processes of individual). According to Mead symbolic interaction “ An evolutionary developed Social Skill necessary for any kind of meaningful encounter of individuals where language is a one major evolving out of need for individual to cooperate in a rational way. Language in its beginning form of gesture→ primordial social act. Physical gesture- twinkling of an eye, the motion of a hand, curl of a lip, raised eyebrow. Gesture is the seed bed of language and the essential prerequisite of all intellectual activity. Theory- mind, self, society Mind- (1) It develops with the child’s capacity to distinguish his and other non- sense motions and significant gestures/ conventional gestures. Example- child experiments with his gesture until he can mimic not only its physical appearance but also to convey others it symbol meaning. (2) By Gesture and language child develops the capacity to assume the posture/ perspective of the person who’s he is interact. With this child is able to conceptualize another point of view. “Take the role of the others”.
  • 3. Mind in was when child is able to— (1) Understand and use conventional gesture. (2) To employ the gesture to take the role of the other. (3) To imaginatively rehearse alternative lines of action. (Process of Intellectual activity). Self- (1) for Cooley- mind- produces communication. Mead- Mind- it arises with in communication begins with random Gesture- (I) verbal (II)Nonverbal (2) As father of symbolic action give meaning of Gesture - A social act operates as a stimulus for the response of another Organism engaged in a same act. Symbol- A significant gesture conveys a meaning to which only human beings can respond. These are significant because self-conscious quality in man where as self’s essence as reflective in self awareness. Individual can be both an object- Me Subject- I to himself. (3) Self- as self image, self concept, taking role of the other, significant others Society- (i) It is third dimension in perspective of the social world. Self and mind serve as the interaction ingredients eventuate in social order. (ii) Society is a human construction, organized activity essentially regulated by the generalized other and where the individuals make adjustments and cooperate with one another. (iii) Individual adjusts in society between complex interactional adjustments- conflict, compromise, innovation, cooperation as human communications.
  • 4. (iv) Mind and self negotiate the parameters and operational rules of social dispose. Orders and Institutions are altered, reconstructed disassembled. (v) Social change, consequently both likely and unpredictable because of the Dynamics of human interaction (in likely), unpredictable due to the freedom of spontaneous Unity in mind and self. (vi) Social Institutions represent the organized and patterned interaction (variety of individuals) depends for emergence and resistance upon mind and self. Self is made up of- I and me I -- Represents the impulsive tendencies and spontaneous behavior of the human infant, behavior which is unconditioned and disciplined. Aware of himself as a subject because the impulsive behavior of I cannot be predicted. Me --It is the social components of self internalize demands of society. The process of continuous interaction with parents and significant others gives rise to the concept of ME enables the individual to restrain and regulate the behavior of I accordance with the established norms of group/ society. It is the individual of aware of him as object. Me as the generalized other internalized. Self—- Consciousness emerges in three evolutionary stages. (A) The stage of imitative acts (Second year of child life Mimics the mannerisms and behavioral pattern of his parents). (B) The play stage (about third year of child life as child’s growing interest in assuming various roles of his significant others example—play role of mother, father, younger sister etc). (C) The game stage- (it is a stage of self consciousness developed during unified self images. Child developed the capacity to take the role of the others, as one/ other roll but also able to assume the attitudes of several people comprising his social group all at one time. This stage is very complex and indicates real maturity in consciousness of the self and others. Functions of self and others- (i) communication (ii) Analysis of situation
  • 5. (iii) Self direction and self control (iv) Self judgment (v) Identity (vi) My I and problem solving