Week 3 01/21/2014
Wallace & Wolf – 197235
Symbolic interactionism – Chicago – birth place of SI – Herbert Blumer & Mead. Social
• Indiv. “with self” & interaction between internal thoughts & emotions &
the social behaviour.
o Common set of symbols and understanding possessed by people
in a group.
Key element: symbols & understandings that guide the individuals.
Social psychology – interested in social development of the individual. How the indiv. develops
social as a result of participating in group life.
• Necessary to consider the nature of the equipemtn w/which the human infant begins life.
Blumer disagrees w/2 original views:
o Instinct psychology – emphasizes the importance of unreasoned natural
o Stimulusresponse approach – behaviour as acquired but essentially
involuntary responses to external stumuli.
Blumer: pictures the newborn infant as unorganized & dependent on adults
for direction & survival.
Straitjacket – functionalist approach – stress on norms implies that most interaction is fixed in
advance. Symbolic interactions view social rules as NOT the primary concern or avg. behaviour &
general shape of institutions. Understand the influence of social rules.
• Rather: primarily concerned w/ explaining individuals’ particular
decisions & actions & explaining these by predetermined rules &
Weber – Verstehen – interpretive understanding/subjective meaning.
• Action theory – indiv. Interpretation of a sitch. & importance of subjective meaning.
Simmel – analyzing individual behaviour. Behaviour can cause reverberation throughout society.
• Watergate example.
o Security guard noticing tape on door, reported.
• Geometry of social space
Dyad – Each of 2 particip. is confronted by the other. Withdrawal from 1 will destroy
the whole dyadic relationship.
Triad – dyad to triad causes qualitative change. Confronted w/possibility of being
outvoted by majority. Triad imposes its will upon 1 member through formation of a
coalition by the other two. Options for 3 member: 1. Play role of mediator, keep group intact.
2. Turn disagreement between other 2 to own advantage.
3. Intentionally create conflicts for own advantage.
William Isaac Thomas – definition of the situation – individuals have the power to ignore a
stimulus that they responded to at an earlier time.
• People’s definition of the sitch. Have bahevioural consequences.
• Cannot understand human activity unless look at subjective meanings.
• Everyone interprets the same situation differently.
Cooley – lookingglass self – the self you understand as result of info reflected back @ you in
judgments of others w/whom you interact.
• 3 elements
i. imagination of our appearance to another
ii. imagination of their judgment of THAT appearance
iii. selffeeling, price or mortification
• Acting organism, NOT just as one who receives & responds.
• Active & creative. Selfinteraction form & guide own conduct.
o Things: exist prior to & independent of the individual
o Objects: exist only in relation to acts.
Things are converted to objects through acts of indivs.
Tomato: object of nutrition; object of expression when thrown in anger.
Food & weapon. Person is creative.
“I” – unorganized response of the organism to attitudes of others. “Me” – set of organized attitudes of others that indiv. Assumes.
o Perspective on oneself learned from others.
Attitudes of others constitude the organized ‘me’ & one reacts towards that as n
‘Me’ guides social behaviour, brings influence of others into indiv.
‘I’ allows for innovation, creativity, & freedom from control by others.
• Internal conversations one has with oneself.
o This is how a person takes things into account & organize themselves for action.
o It is also the basis for roletaking. Assumes the attitude of the other individual as well
as calling it out in the other.
Putting yourself in the other’s shoes.
For example: making mental notes to do something. You rehearse for a future action.
Development of self
• Preplay – age 2. Meaningless, imitative acts. Meaningless b/c child lacks ability to take
attitudes of the other.
o Meaning: object of thought arises in experience through the individual stimulating
himself to take attitude of the other in his reaction towards the object.
When indivs. Share symbolic interpretations, the act is meaningful. Speaking
the same language in a way.
Play – later i