Symbolic Interactionism

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Symbolic Interactionism

  1. 1. SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM Approaches to Meaning: The work of George Herbert Mead
  2. 2. CORE PRINCIPLES <ul><li>MEANING </li></ul><ul><li>LANGUAGE </li></ul><ul><li>THOUGHT </li></ul>
  3. 3. MEANING <ul><li>Humans act toward people or things on the basis of the meanings they assign to those people or things. </li></ul><ul><li>Once people define a situation as real, it is very real in its consequences </li></ul><ul><li>Meaning-making is a community project </li></ul>
  4. 4. LANGUAGE, SOURCE OF MEANING <ul><li>Meaning: </li></ul><ul><li>arises out of social interaction </li></ul><ul><li>not inherent in objects </li></ul><ul><li>negotiated through language by naming ,, ascribing meaning to words </li></ul><ul><li>Knowing depends on symbolic naming </li></ul><ul><li>A symbol is a stimulus that has a learned meaning; our words have default assumptions </li></ul>
  5. 5. THOUGHT <ul><li>Interpretation of symbols is modified by thought </li></ul><ul><li>Thinking is inner conversation </li></ul><ul><li>Humans are thoughtful </li></ul><ul><li>Symbols stimulate thought </li></ul><ul><li>Humans can “take the role of the other” </li></ul>
  6. 6. THE SELF <ul><li>Defined through interconnection of meaning, language and thought </li></ul><ul><li>Involves taking the role of the other: looking-glass self </li></ul><ul><li>Function of language </li></ul><ul><li>Community membership filters consciousness of self </li></ul><ul><li>Always in flux </li></ul><ul><li>Combines impuslive “I” and reflective “me” </li></ul>
  7. 7. COMMUNITY <ul><li>Sense of self based on community expectations and responses: the “generalized other” or “me” </li></ul><ul><li>This shapes how we think and interact </li></ul><ul><li>The “me” is formed through continual symbolic interaction </li></ul><ul><li>The “me” is the organized community within the individual </li></ul>
  8. 8. Applications <ul><li>Social interaction as dramaturgical performance </li></ul><ul><li>Performances are fragile </li></ul><ul><li>Ethnography as appropriate method </li></ul><ul><li>A negative “generalized other” can reduce a person to nothing </li></ul><ul><li>Name-calling can force us to view ourselves through a warped mirror </li></ul><ul><li>Self-fulfilling prophecy: our expectations evoke responses that confirm what we originally anticipated. </li></ul>

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