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Soc 233 Oct 17

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SOC 233
Kara Somerville

SOC 233 October 17, 2011 Symbolic Interactionism Interactionist Perspective  Focus on interpretation; social meaning.  Micro-sociological.  The way meaning is socially constructed on a small scale (e.g., greeting, face-to-face interaction). Categorization of the Social World 3 Premises of Categorization: 1. Categorize Similar Experiences  Based on unconscious and conscious experiences. 2. Order and Regularity  eg) How we define a mother has regularity; often perceived as a nurturing, compassionate person who cares for children. 3. Meaning to Categories  Identifications, social meanings and social characteristics based upon the category or role.  eg) When we meet somebody for the first time, we open up categorizations; ways in which we can identify people.  Used to alter the way we interact based upon categories. Symbolic-Interaction Paradigm  Mead, Blumer and Goffman.  Focus on the way in which individuals (i.e., social actors) consciously act, rather than simply react to social stimulation.  The way in which different social actors interpret the behaviour of others.  Focus on meaning people give to behaviour, and how people interpret the meaning of behaviour. Basic Principles  Humans are social, creative and have the ability for reflection; capacity for thought.  Thought is shaped by social interaction.  People learn symbols through interaction.  Meanings and symbols allow for human action (e.g., traffic lights).  People interpret a situation and modify their actions or interaction.  People can create own meanings.  Group and societies are made up of patterns of action and interaction. Mead’s: Symbolic Meanings 1. Gestures and Significant Symbols  People respond in meaningful ways to different stimuli.  Gesture indicates meaning of the act; will be interpreted by another person and will influence the way they respond.  eg) An individual pulls out a pack of cigarettes at a table. If you smoke, you might share a cigarette together. If you do not smoke, you might get up and move away to avoid the smoke. 2. Significant Symbol  Have the same meaning for all concerned.  We share the understanding for what it means.  Assumes interpretation of the symbol.  People don’t just react – they interpret each other’s actions on the basis of symbols.  eg) Thumb’s up sign – In our society, the thumb’s up sign means “okay,” but we don’t automatically react to it the same way because we interpret it differently.  eg) If someone yells “FIRE!,” we all understand the language, but react differently. Some might get up and run, some might question whether there is a fire, and some might ask where the fire is located. Mead’s: The Self  We are acting organisms; not a passive receptacle.  Social process.  Process of self-interaction.  Action organized through interpretation of events.  People, through self-interaction can form and guide their own behaviour. Note – People form and guide behaviour through their interactions with others.  eg) Tomato – What does a tomato mean? Is it sitting on your salad, or am I throwing it in your face?  A tomato is being used in two different contexts.  A tomato is just a thing, but how we use it defines the action. Mead’s: I & Me I: Source of identity, originality, creativity and spontaneity.  Characteristic of animals.  Spontaneous, impulsive. Me: Perspectives of oneself that the individual has learned from other (internalized).  Conditioned, controlled, conforms to norm.  Guides the behaviour of the socialized person.  Who, what and where influence the “ME” part of ourself.  eg) Burning your hand – The “I” will react spontaneously by removing your hand quickly from the hot spot. The “ME” part is determined by where you are and who you are with. Q – How does gender influence the “ME” when burning your hand?  A man may respond in a more masculine way; swear, act tough, etc.  A woman may respond in a more feminine way; cry, wince, etc. Note – The “ME” will often think “what will they think of ME?” Mead’s: Self-Interaction – ROLE TAKING Role Taking: Ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes; assume the role of another.  Internal conversations one has with on
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