The Meanings and Functions of Symbols

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The Meanings and Functions of Symbols What are symbols? My sociological analysis of symbols is that they are social objects used for communication to self or for communication to others and to self. They are intentionally and unintentionally used incomplete objects, which continuously communicate meanings whether those meanings are tangible or emotional. Self is an object of the actor’s internal actions such as self-communication, self-perception, and self-control. Through self we communicate our identity, and direct our actions in situations internally and outwardly. In other words, through social action we communicate verbally with the tools of words and non-verbally with the tools of symbols. It is society who deems definition or meaning to a symbol; therefore, it is through symbols that we are socialized. Can children be seen as symbolic? To answer that question I refer to Cooley’s “Looking Glass Self Theory”. My interpretation of this theory explains that yes children can be seen as symbols because of this theory’s third party assessment of self. The reality of learned behavior among children is a direct representation of parental characteristics, accomplishments, and defeats. The ratio of parent-child interaction is far greater than the child-societal interaction, which ultimately provokes learned behavior and in turn the child becomes a mirror of parental self, ergo parent visualizes self through third party affiliation. In summary, how society perceives your children’s actions, language, and status, is to a certain degree, how they will perceive your actions, language, and status. My significant symbol is one with multiple meanings linked with multiple expressive stages within my life. My daughter, Kayla, represents several meanings but those meanings are perceived or interpreted differently and, in my opinion, differently among gender. This has been a problem for me in the past, which ultimately lead me to evaluate the opinions of my friends on their meaning of children. My female friends, who had no children at the time, thought of children as a chance to contribute to society in a positive manner. The idea of molding an individual within the boundaries of society excited them as if it were, just plain and simply their calling in life. My male friends, a little uncomfortable about maybe hurting my feelings, thought of children as, one friend put, “kids, that are not your own, are like the highest fence on the obstacle course with an unreachable rope dangling in front of you to hoist up on”.
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