SOC388H1S Sociology in Everyday Life
February 2 2012 – Week 4
- Methods that Blumer used – he didn’t come up with it himself. Verstehen
(“understanding” in German) meaning that people give to their actions
- We see the perspective of Weber – analyzing and theorizing what people do.
It is not just about microfactors that we look at, but giving meaning to what
people do. Blumer criticizes by-passing meaning – so not considering
something is important or assuming meaning is given/taken for granted.
- So he says that a lot of sociology looks at connection between social factors
as independent variable that causes some kind of behavior. Blumer said we
are overlooking the meaning people give to things such as media.
- There are few other things that follow what we saw last week with meaning.
Where does meaning come from? It comes from social interaction.
- BLumer develops 3 premises
o People act towards things on the basis of meanings that things have
o Meaning of things comes from interaction people have with others
o These things are handled and modified through interpretive process
done by person in her interaction and things she encounters
- You can isolate with these 3 instances
- Whatever we do has to do with meanigns and when Blumer talks about
objects he talks about physical, social (people) and the others (ideas and
beliefs). When we deal with them we deal wit hthe meaning we give to these
o Affording people with agency. We need to have meaning on us. That is
the major departure.
- Whether we decide to do one thing or the other it is based on how we
interpret those things
- Critique – he says there are 2 common decision. Things have meaning in
themselves. Fancy clothes have meaning in themselves because they are
- We are pointing to that object and putting meaning. There is process of
- When we see violence we have different reaction and decide what to do
based on the meaning we have in that violence
- Symbolic interactionism
o Meaning has important in those symbols
- Blumer says that he talks about images. Those are basic ideas on which
symbolic interaction is filled. This resends society and behavior
o Symbolic interactions is like following Mead’s steps
o In a different way we normally think of it
o When we say something is social, what do we mean? Do we mean we
belong to our group or we have been socialized into incorporating
certain idea? SOC388H1S Sociology in Everyday Life
February 2 2012 – Week 4
- Blumer points out that when he talks about interaction – it is not interaction
about variable. It is not about crime and behavior – it is interaction between
- You see culture and social structure that lead to what people do. That
explains action. Think of action, movement, and behavior
- Blumer wouldn’t deny that if you are surrounded by poverty you will also be
surrounded by different things. He talks about world and not environment
because we make different meanings to this. We may even pay attention to
certain things. Before symbolic interaction we just think of environment.
- Everything means different to different people. Your iphone might not mean
the same to the prof than it does to you. The early cell phones were big, grey
one with antenna; and the prof’s friend got a cell phone. Cell phones back
then used to be very expensive and didn’t much to him. He would use the
phone antenna to stir his drink. So his phone had particular meaning to him
that’s different for other people.
- Symbolic interaction
o Why is it called this
o Interaction happens on a symbolic level
o This statement means we are always interpreting things in
accordance to those inte