Essay on Symbolic Interactionism Theory

Essay on Symbolic Interactionism Theory

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Symbolic Interactionism Theory


George Herbert Mead studied and used an interactionist approach for many years. He was a philosophy professor at the university of Chicago. Mead thought that the true test to any theory is whether or not it is useful in solving complex social problems (EM Griffin, p.83). So Mead decided to study the procedures of communicating, specifically with symbols, the theory was titled Symbolic Interactionism.

Mead declared that our gift of language, our ability to manipulate and interpret abstract symbols, was what separated human beings from the other animals. I feel in a big way that Mead is correct. Humans understand and filter out information whether they intend to or not, all due to the channel of symbols. A symbol is a stimulus with meaning and value, it's an object whose meaning can be shared. Just think of all the symbols that stand universal throughout America, green light = go, heart = love, and red octagons = stop. What about the symbols that shine through our feelings, emotions and actions. A yawn usually means you're bored or tired. A smile is attached to happiness and laughter, symbols leak out naturally, and are read naturally as well. A newborn is nonsocial until it learns to be channeled through communication with the knowledge of symbols.

Blumer was a student of Mead, who followed his lead in the theory of Symbolic Interaction. Blumer defined the theory as " an activity in which human beings interpret each other's gestures and act on the basis of the meaning yielded by that interpretation." (1969 pp. 65-66). Blumer supports his statement of symbolic interpretation with three following observations.



Human beings act toward things on the basis of meanings that the things h...


... middle of paper ...


...9).

Blumer gave the assumption that human beings were always the active makers of their lives and that many of the situations faced by humans were problems. Most of these problems don't have to exist if everyone only to into context humans natural usage of symbols. Symbolic Interactionism "results in various degrees of shared meanings and values between participants (Faules & Alexander, 1978, p. 5), and a simple gesture, utterance, or act is most likely going to convey an impression or meaning. Society as a whole needs to understand that not everyone's sigh means the same thing. Symbolic Interactionism is a complex channel to see into, if it is not your own. So understanding your own symbols and meanings is the best angle to relate to Symbolic Interactionism Theory.


Peter M. Hall, "Structural Symbolic Interaction: Communication and Power" 1980, pp.49-60.

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