Symbolic interactionism | Society and Culture | MCAT | Khan Academy


Symbolic interactionism takes
a small scale view of society. It focuses on a small
scale perspective of the interactions
between individuals, like when you hang
out with a friend, instead of looking at
large scale structures, like education or law. By looking at the small
scale, symbolic interactionism explains the individual in a
society and their interactions with others. And through that, it can
explain social order and change. The theory was compiled from
the teachings of George Herbert Mead in the early 20th century. He believed that the
development of the individual was a social process, as
were the meanings individuals assigned to things. People change based
on their interactions with objects, events,
ideas, other people. And they assign
meaning to things in order to decide how to act. For example, if I had sat under
the shade of trees all my life, and I was on a long walk
today and spotted a big tree, I might want to sit under it. The tree means shade
on a hot day to me. Herbert Bloomer
continued Mead’s work and actually coined the
term symbolic interactionism to describe this
theory of society. He proposed three
tenets to explain symbolic interactionism. Let’s say I do decide to sit
under that tree on my long walk today. I step off the path and
sit down and lean back against the trunk. Bloomer’s first
tenet was that we act based on the meaning
we have given something. I consider the tree
as a place to rest, so I’ll go lean against it. As I’m sitting
there, another person stops to warn me that all
trees are infested with ants. Bloomer’s second
tenet was that we give meaning to things based
on our social interactions. The same thing can have
a different meaning for different people. For the person talking
to me, the tree is a breeding ground
for creepy crawlies, and they are going to avoid it. But I’m quite happy with
my seat in the shade, and I haven’t been
bothered by any ants. So I’m content just to sit. We have different
views of the tree, and so we act differently. As I’m sitting there talking
to this lovely person, I feel something
tickle my shoulder. And suddenly I jump up as
something bites my back. Turns out the tree was
infested with ants. Now that I’ve been
bitten under a tree, I might not sit
under the next one I find because it might
also be infested with ants. Bloomer’s third tenet was that
the meaning we give something is not permanent. It can change due
to everyday life. The meaning I give to trees has
changed after my interaction with the infested tree. A big tree now means
shade on a hot day with a potential
for getting bit. So let’s sum up the
three central ideas of symbolic interactionism. They are that action
depends on meaning, that different people assign
different meanings of things, and that the meaning of
something can change. But there are some criticisms
to symbolic interactionism as a theory because it
doesn’t ask the same questions as the large scale
sociology theories do. It is sometimes considered
as supplemental, rather than a full theory, because
it is restricted to studying small interactions
between individuals. While this is true,
symbolic interactionism gives a different
perspective to sociology that is necessary for fully
understanding a society. It is capable of explaining
how aspects of society can change as they are
created and re-created by social interactions. It examines society
on a small scale and gives the individual
the same importance as the society as a whole
and is a necessary view when studying a society.

11 thoughts on “Symbolic interactionism | Society and Culture | MCAT | Khan Academy

  1. xeno linguistic alien communication not cognitively causality n effect of substance omnipotence making it God aswelL counter reCtion on confirming n not fight every denied or determined genuinely acceptable by only the human dictation on language in interaction. trippy entertainment n tricks n drifting focus as ignoring adhd p.a. alL over n obviously ocd. authentic instances of xame xana ..word comes up as i type n listen to clip. unlikely ones. … not immediately go figure likelihood of thst happening

  2. hey @ the gender roles r retardation folk level of estimated rights of fn whst just is , do so exist for msrely thst of being become … n as… there is where I started detect sociology gone bad e social worker's cps. .. ..yeah
    ..give me a gun :')': … this may b the brief approach n my understNing thst being ALL given explanation. … yes… now women went yo work. became the new institution n troops. .. like authority by government. them type who truly msjor problem w woman needing that most sensitive human protection angst trigger n blow up stigmatized generalizations thst present the dysfunctional n socisl status family …mainly mothers. .as the misery they wish to find… but I never seen anywhere of these stories I listened to ..didpite. thst is not healthy nor normal to oppress. thst is investing on order n fucktards not daring risk
    … less hyped n imagined prejudices diversion relativity to approach fit afjusted precision

  3. What if microsociology is more valid than macrosociology? I mean we live in a world where different people have different interactions with different objects/people. This creates different beiefs, values, etc. So then different people go out and interact with the world differently. This makes more sense with racism because I know I'm not racist but people will tell me I've been "socialized to be racist as a white person" and that "I'm just in denial". I think they have a false belief and that they're racists themselves.

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