Strength: it forces us to look beyond popular justifications for why particular social
arrangements exist, and to ask questions about whose interests are being protected and
promoted and at whose expense
Weakness: it presents a simplistic profile of those who hold advantaged positions.
Symbolic Interaction Perspective: Symbolic interactionists focus on social interaction and
related concepts of self-awareness/reflexive thinking, symbols, and negotiated order.
Social Interaction: Everyday encounters in which people communicate, interpret, and respond
to each other’s words and actions.
- These theorists ask, when involved in interaction, how do people “take account of what
each other is doing or is about to do” and then direct their own conduct accordingly
(Blumer 1969)? The process depends on
- (2)shared symbols, and
- (3)negotiated order.
Self-Awareness: occurs when a person is able to observe and evaluate the self from another’s
viewpoint. People are self-aware when they imagine how others are viewing, evaluating, and
interpreting their words and actions.
Shared Symbols: A symbol is any kind of object to which people assign a name, meaning, or
value (Blumer 1969). Objects can be classified as physical, social, or abstract.
Negotiated Order: The sum of existing expectations and newly negotiated ones.
Critiques of symbolic-interactionist perspective:
Strength: it focuses on up-close and personal factors that shape the course of interaction and
Weakness: it can get caught up in interaction dynamics and lose sight of the larger structural
issues in which that interaction is embedded, including the existing social order and a profit-
Methods of Social Research
Research Methods: Various strategies that sociologists and other scientists use to formulate or
answer meaningful research questions and to collect, analyze, and interpret data gathered.
Data: applies to observations recorded, responses to survey and interview questions, and much
Scientific Method: Sociologists adhere to the scientific method; that is, they acquire data
through observation and invite others to critique and replicate the research.