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Symbolic reaction to my early life interactions essay

  • It is certainly desirable to find such alternatives, but, unfortunately, they are not always forthcoming;
  • At the rational end, Blumer writes that the actor "has to note what he wants to do and how he is to do it" 233b;
  • So to be blunt, this is not the Goffman reading I would have chosen for inclusion in the book;
  • Of course that rewriting takes place within a certain framework both of content and of what counts as "history" , but the emphasis is on people creating meaning;
  • Page references are to the page numbers on the handout — from the Wolff book;
  • For example, a number of studies find that women are more likely than men to smile, to nod, and to have more expressive faces.

Sociology 333 — Introduction to Symbolic Interactionism S. Frank Having two theories before us—functionalism and interactionism—allows us to begin to ask: What is a theory? The answer will continue to shift throughout the course, but let me note a few components.

Most theories have some version of: Blumer, on the other hand, proclaims that concepts are to "sensitize" researchers to what they may find in their field work; a research program, including ideas about what counts as explanation. Alexander notes perceptively that Blumer "focused more on promoting the methodology of direct observation than on elaborating theoretical concepts" 196b ; Parsons did the opposite.

Homans, in contrast to both, argues for more "experimental" research designs yielding testable propositions, rather than either theoretical concepts or direct observations.

Parsons wants his version of functionalism to be THE theory guiding sociological research.

  • As you read this section, you will probably be reading many things relevant to your own social interaction;
  • If your high school has a dress code, for example, the students may want you to abolish it, the teachers and superintendent may want you to keep it, and maybe the school board would agree with the students;
  • For example, some people who dislike children and do not have the patience to be good parents end up being parents anyway.

Symbolic interactionism is far more open, understanding itself as a diffuse collection of interests in interaction. Alexander reduces action problems to the dichotomy of rational and non-rational, and order problems to collectivist and individualist. He argues, and I agree, that functionalism is non-rational and collectivist; symbolic interaction is non-rational and individualist.

Remember what Alexander also writes: Yet, while all sociologists believe such patterns exists [sic], they often disagree sharply about how such an order is actually produced. Functionalists are most interested in patterns of mobilizing resources to achieve external goals, and complementary to that, sustaining internal integration.

Symbolic interactionism

They believe these patterns are produced by actors who are socialized into a condition of "motivated compliance" with the functional imperatives of the system. Note that everyone has a criticism of everyone else, and functionalists criticize symbolic interactionist research for failing to develop a general theory that explains much of anything symbolic interactionists then reply that what functionalists "explain" is a fictional "social system" they have dreamed up, and so the argument goes.

Symbolic interactionists are interested in patterns of interaction. They agree that actors themselves produce those patterns, but even within S. My notes below on the readings are designed to help you see these differences. Herbert Blumer coined the term symbolic interaction, though he only asserted it as the name for a theoretical orientation in the early 1960s. Blumer was a charismatic sociologist: Blumer is not interested in elaborating a "theory" but in kick-starting a research program of direct observation, including ethnography and open-ended interviewing.

What counts is to go into social settings and discover what the people there believe is the meaning of their actions.

5.3 Social Interaction in Everyday Life

Their response…is based on the meaning which they attach to such actions" 232b. Blumer would admit that people do not, strictly speaking, make these meanings up on each occasion of interaction; meanings are based in shared symbol systems. But actors attach and recombine these meanings as they will. Blumer then elaborates his three famous propositions though Homans would claim they are not propositions, since they are not testable: At the rational end, Blumer writes that the actor "has to note what he wants to do and how he is to do it" 233b.

This sounds much like Parsons early action theory, but then Blumer presents a very different explanation of how the actor proceeds. He makes one of his strongest individualist statements: These interpretations are not externally derived but.

  • Interaction is the basic unit of study;
  • The stratification of emotions:

Meaning is a question of mutual alignment, not an individual construction. If Blumer thinks that "social structures" exist only in the minds of sociologists who spend too much time in their studies and too little doing direct observation, he does acknowledge the reality of organizations.

Note how Blumer seeks to combine his own version of collectivism "the organization of human society is the framework inside of which social action takes place" but, predominantly, individualism this framework "is not the determinant of that action" but is itself "the product of the activity of acting units", that is, people 237b.

Symbolic Interactionism Essay

As he says below, structural features set conditions within which people act, "but they do not determine their action. As I wrote above, the preferred method is ethnographic, and I want to emphasize that S. Each takes up the problem Alexander suggests, above, of how members acquire the patterns of their action.

Symbolic interaction and age-group specified in mead's 3 stages of self?

Each is more "collectivist" than Blumer, though whatever "framework" is described, it never determines the action that takes place within it. Anselm Strauss is best known today as one of the developers of the qualitative method of "grounded theory. He then turns to history, writing: In this typical S. We do not "make" our respective pasts, but we do form our own conceptions of how that past will "impinge" on us.

Strauss then takes his argument to the group or nation-state level, discussing how nationalist movements often have to create a past that is consistent with their definition of the present. A number of later studies describe this process as it takes place in Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia, and parts of Africa. Strauss ends with another typical S. Of course that rewriting takes place within a certain framework both of content and of what counts as "history"but the emphasis is on people creating meaning.

Goffman would be unhappy to find himself in a "S. In one famous passage he wrote that while W. Thomas is right, we do define our situations; but Goffman emphasizes, we do not make up these definitions for ourselves. Thus Goffman is at the collectivist end of the S. The other essay is more famous for its depiction of what Goffman called role distance.

Here his work seems more complementary to Blumer: That essay is about people playing with—and against—the expectations that adhere to their roles. So to be blunt, this is not the Goffman reading I would have chosen for inclusion in the book. But Goffman is always worth reading.

The paper begins with the idea of "engrossment" 239b that Goffman has developed in his earlier book, Relations in Public.

  1. Note how Blumer seeks to combine his own version of collectivism "the organization of human society is the framework inside of which social action takes place" but, predominantly, individualism this framework "is not the determinant of that action" but is itself "the product of the activity of acting units", that is, people 237b. When Americans travel abroad, anecdotal evidence indicates that they often think that people in other nations are pushy and demanding and that these citizens view Americans as cold and aloof Ellsworth, 2005.
  2. Snow uses these four principles as the thematic bases for identifying and discussing contributions to the study of social movements. Simmel appears to use both consciousness and praxis as explanations of social action.
  3. If you are attending a funeral of someone you did not really know that well and, out of boredom, think of a recent episode of The Simpsons that makes you chuckle, the glares you get will make it very clear that your emotional display is quite inappropriate.
  4. Gang members act as a family in their own society and there are certain words, gestures, rules and roles that they abide to in this man made society. List one or two gender differences in nonverbal communication.

Thus Goffman has some harsh things to say about cheating in games. By the end of p. His point was not clear to me until 243b, when he writes of "the kind of veil that will be drawn over his feelings while in communication with another. The argument resolves itself in an assertion of the collectivism in interactionism: Again, we define situations but we do not make up the definitions ourselves. And any show of feeling has to be moderated so as to keep the encounter orderly again, his fear of "flooding out" or excessive display that would say too much about actual attitudes toward the situation and others in it.

Lyman begins with the need for habits. On at the top of 249 does he offer some kind of definition of habits, as "praxes", or ways of getting things done. Habits are the routines through which social life is done, or, the practices through which life is practiced. I think I finally got it on 250a when he describes "crises" that interrupt the habitual flow. Something happens and suddenly our habit is no longer adequate as a practice: As I understand Lyman, the crisis calls out some "I" response.

  1. Here Simmel makes no conclusion concerning historical causation here — money economy or intellect are connected but not clear which came first.
  2. As you try to please all these competing factions, you certainly might experience some role strain!
  3. In spite of these problems, he wrote extensively on the nature of association, culture, social structure, the city, and the economy. In recounting this episode, Kirkham wrote that as a professor he quickly would have condemned the police officer he had now become.

The issue here the problem of how—out of deference to our fellow interactants—we show ourselves to be engrossed in one scenario even as another may be bursting through, demanding our attention.

When someone wins, that is an outcome required by the structure of the game, a culmination to the mutual engrossment of players and spectators.

Next week, in the world of George Homans, that emphasis will shift.