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2S06 Lecture 33.docx

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McMaster University
David Young

Fox 1 Lecture 33 SOCIOL 2S06 Thursday February 13 , 2014  Symbolic Interactionism: • Introductory issues and historical overview: B) The emergence and development of symbolic interactionist theory: 1) The Chicago school in the 1920s and 1930s a) Robert Park: • Dominant member of the department of sociology in the 1920s and 1930s b) W.I. Thomas: • Had more influence than Park on the development of symbolic interactionism • Thomas is now best known for developing the concept of the definition of the situation • There is an objective reality (what actually exists) and a subjective reality (what we think exists) • The concept of the definition of the situation indicates that people respond to the subjective meaning a situation as for them rather than to the objective features of the situation • Example: at a party and talking to several people at this party and you don’t know these people very well. As the conversation progresses you consider in your mind telling a politically incorrect joke. The objective reality might be different; the people you’re talking to are conservative and may be offended by your joke c) Charles Horton Cooley: • Developed the notion of the looking glass self d) George Hebert Mead: • Ideas that were similar to Cooley but he had a much more substantial impact on sociology • Unlike the other members of the school Mead was a philosopher, not a sociologists • Mead wrote a book called “mind, self and society” • Published in 1964 and now provides the basis for symbolic interactionism 2) Decline of the Chicago school after the 1930s • Two main reasons for the decline of the Chicago school in the 1930s: 1) Growth of quantitative sociology: • American sociology started to become preoccupied with quantitative techniques and doing statistical analyses • Chicago school became to be seen less relevant • Symbolic interactionism is connected to qualitative sociology Fox 2 Lecture 33 2) Growth of structural functionalism: • Became the dominant sociological theory in the 1940s and 1950s • This displaced symbolic interactionism 3) The Chicago school in the 1950s: • School had not lost all influence in sociology • That influence in American sociology continued into the 1950s A) Herbert Blumer: • In the 1950s Hebert Blumber was the principal figure of the Chicago school • Blumber had been a student of Mead • He tried to carry on Mead’s work – the tradition of symbolic interactionism • Blumber coined the term “symbolic interactionism” in 1931 to describe Mead’s
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