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Lecture 4

SOC100H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: George Herbert Mead, Symbolic Interactionism, Microsociology

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Jayne Baker

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Soc100 lect 4
Symbolic interactionism
Max Weber, George Herbert Mead
Weber was critical about Marx’s thinking about economy (too simplistic, too focused on economy, too
narrow to look at industrial capitalism).
There are more than two types of workers such as, middle managers, people who contribute to the
economy without being paid. People have some power and privilege regardless of their job.
He looked at the macrosociology of Marx and Durkheim and said what about microsociology; that
happens with face to face interaction.
Studying face to face interaction, diact (studying two groups of people), the meaning that people attach
to how they interact with each other. Micro level!
Symbolic: Is looking at how we interact with each other on the basis of the meaning that we attach to
those things. Things carry meaning.
For example: clothing: our clothing carry meaning. You are interacting with that person superficially
based on the clothing. For instance, you are wearing UTM hoodie.
For example: hockey: carry meaning: which team…
Weber critiqued the focus of Marx’s work
Society is created, recreated, and modified continuously by human activity.
Symbolic interactionists begin with the individual
Symbol: “Things that carry particular meanings…” (Brym and Lie 2018:28)
Example: The Beach:
For the exact same setting we attach different meaning such as having a good time with family and
friends and playing frisbee. For someone else it can be a place of relaxation and just want to lie in the
sun. If you can see how someone else see the beach, it might change or adjust your own understanding
of the beach.
Example: Goffman’s Dramaturgical Model
The self and the scene
Social life is a series of dramatic performances. What happens when someone enters the front stage?
We want other people to see us in a particular role and we act that way to be seen that way. We are
putting on a performance to meet other people’s expectances. The work that we do to prepare for the
performance stays in the back stage.
The front stage and the back stage
Job interview: front stage: confidence look and Back stage: prepare for the job interview
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