SOCI240 Reading Summary 10/4/2011 7:06:00 PM
Textbook Chapter one:
The meaning of symbolic interactionism
Social life depends on judgments about the nature of the world.
It stresses that people create, negotiate and change social meanings
through the process of interaction.
The origin and development of symbolic interactionism
- Meaning interaction and human agency at the center of
understanding social life.
1.The nature of reality
John Dewey asserted: reality has multiple natures and possibilities,
and it is open to many interpretations.
Example: Beer can
2.The nature of the human knower
John Dewey posited: we establish the meaning of object through our
practice skills, symbolic abilities, and manipulative power.
3. The relative nature of truth and the linkage of facts, value and
According to the pragmatist view, then, truth is not an absolute
phenomenon. Rather, it is to the needs and interest of particular
individuals and groups.
4. The progressive role of science
Even in scientific guise, the pragmatist believed strongly in the
possibility of human progress facilitated by a scientifically informed
process of social reconstruction.
1. They allow us to exchange shared meaning and communicate
effectively with others.
2. They enable us to anticipate how others are likely to act in a
situation and to coordinate our actions with theirs.
Social origins and dynamics of mind Taking roles of others
The processual and creative nature of human action
1. Human beings act towards things on the basis of meanings those
things have for them.
2. Meaning of such things is derived from, or arises out of, the social
3. The meaning are handle in, and modified through, an interpretive
process used by the person in dealing with the things he
1. Human beings are unique creatures because of their ability to use
2. People become distinctly human through interaction.
3. People are purposive creatures who act in and towards situations
4. People are conscious, self-reflexive beings who shape their own
5. Society consist people engaging in symbolic interaction
6. Emotions are central to meaning, behavior, and the self.
7. The social act should be fundamental unit of social analysis
8. Sociological methods should enable researchers to grasp people’s
The three guiding possess of interactionism
1. people act towards things on the basis of meaning those things
have for them
2. these meaning derives from interaction with others
3. these meaning are handled in, sustained or altered through
interaction of people 10/4/2011 7:06:00 PM
1. Naturalistic inquiry: focus people’s behavior in natural sittings and
advocates the use of informal and unobtrusive techniques to acquire a
first-hand understanding of the behavior
two key phases: exploration and inspection
2. Ground theory
they engage in the process of collecting and analyzing data
simultaneously, working back and forth between these processes to
develop theoretical explanations of the data they are gathering.
Changing directions in interactionism ethnography
1. greater emphasis on theory directing ethnographic observation and
writing and greater self-awareness of the role of the ethnographer as
both author and witness.
2. Autoethnography: which refers to the study of oneself own
Alternatives to ethnography: the Iowa school and conventional
Dramaturgy is a sociological perspective stemming from symbolic
interactionism, and commonly used in microsociological accounts of social
interaction in everyday life. The term was first adapted into sociology from
the theatre by Erving Goffman, who developed most of the related
terminology and ideas in his 1959 book, The Presentation of Self in Everyday
Life. Kenneth Burke, whom Goffman would later acknowledge as an
influence, had earlier presented his notions of dramatism in 1945 which, in
turn, derives fromShakespeare.
In dramaturgical sociology it is argued that human actions are dependent
upon time, place, and audience. In other words, to Goffman, the self is a
sense of who one is, a dramatic effect emerging from the immediate scene
being presented. [2Goffman forms a theatrical metaphor in defining the
method in which one human being presents itself to another based on
cultural values, norms, and expectations. Performances can have disruptions
(actors are aware of such) but most are successful. The goal of this presentation of self is acceptance from the audience through carefully