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Symbolic Interactionism

by: Jocelyn Rossell

Symbolic Interactionism Sociology 3488

Marketplace > Ohio State University > Sociology > Sociology 3488 > Symbolic Interactionism
Jocelyn Rossell
GPA 3.325
Introduction to Sociological Theory
Paul Malackany

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Notes from Brandy- Symbolic Interactionism, Simmel and Ethnomethodology
Introduction to Sociological Theory
Paul Malackany
Class Notes
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Jocelyn Rossell on Tuesday November 17, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to Sociology 3488 at Ohio State University taught by Paul Malackany in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 14 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Sociological Theory in Sociology at Ohio State University.


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Date Created: 11/17/15
Symbolic Interactionism 1 A social psychological perspective Impact of society on psychological processes Focuses on the individual social interactionism Interested in the interaction between a person s internal thoughts and emotions and hisher social behavior If studying child abuse a symbolic interactionist perspective would be inductive abuserexplanation qualitative research 2 Analysis of smallscale interpersonal relationships Individuals are viewed as active constructors of their own conduct who interpret evaluate de ne and map out their own actions rather than as passive beings who are shaped by outside forces Stresses the processes by which the individual makes decisions and forms opinions The form interaction takes emerges from the situation Differs from functionalism which stresses that interaction is xed Concerned with explaining individual s decisions and actions Can t explain these using predetermined rules and external forces 3 Contributions of Weber and Georg Simmel Weber 4 Simmel Emphasized verstehen Interpretive understanding 0 How does in individual interpret How does an individual interpret a situation How does subjective meaning in uence individual interpretation of a situation Individual decisions can have widespread impact In a dyadic relationship each of two participants is confronted by the other Withdrawal of one participant means the relationship will end When a third person is added an individual faces being outvoted by the majority that results from a coalition of the other two Three strategies can be formed by the third participant 1 play the role of the mediator between the other two and help to keep the group intact 2 turn a disagreement between the other two to hisher own advantage 3 intentionally create con icts between the others for his or her own advantage Simmel s interest in social space in uenced Robert Park who later developed theories on the spread of crime throughout different areas of the city concentric circles 5 WI Thomas De nition of the situation Individuals have the power to ignore a stimulus that they responded to at an earlier time Before any selfdetermined act there is a stage of examination and thought which he called the de nition of the situation De nitions of the situation have behavioral consequences If a situation is de ned as real it is real in its consequences Researchers need to pay attention to subjective meanings or de nitions of the situation otherwise they cannot understand human activity People have different interpretations of a situation dependent on their background which can include education social class raceethnicity religion age and other personal factors 6 Charles Horton Cooley Looking glass self We form our sense of self by using information re ected back to us in the judgments of others with whom we interact The three elements of the looking glass self 1 how we imagine we appear to other people 2 the imagination of the judgment of the other person 3 selfevaluation of that judgment which results in a feeling of sense of worth Cooley believed that the main goal of sociology should be to observe and interpret the imaginations of people The larger social structure rests on these imaginations Phenomenology Sociology of everyday life Micro How do they make it through every day life Asks us to not take what we have learned for granted but to question our way of looking at the world and assume the role of the stranger Phenomenologists study how people de ne their world after they suspend learned cultural notions Everyday reality is a socially constructed system of ideas that has accumulated over time and is taken for granted This perspective challenges our culturally learned ideas Ethnomethodology is the sociology of everyday life Ethnomethdologists try to make sense of their social world They want to know how people make sense of their everyday activities Much of our everyday activity is taken for granted it is never an issue to make sense of it if we take reality for granted why try to make sense of it Ethnomethodologists do not take for granted every day activities Instead they ask How do we construct every day life What are the unwritten rules the understood ways of acting 1 Look at how they use taken for granted behavior 2 Examples walk backward down middle of street go to dinner without a shirt Ethnomethdologists have a different set of problems than traditional sociology They use methods that are both similar to and different from those that other perspectives use They use openended interviews and observations but rarely any quantitative methodology In everyday interactions individuals recognize social facts the taken for granted norms that interpret the meaning of the situation The process itself is the subject matter of research When individuals make sense of a situation by recognizing implicit social norms individuals are constructing social reality They are ordering their experiences so that they are in line with what they consider the everyday world to be like Ethnomethdologists deny the functionalists belief that social facts have a reality of their own that impinges on the individual remember Durkheim How do people invoke taken for granted rules of behavior It is the process by which humans interact and prove to each other that they are following norms and values The interpretive process itself is a phenomenon for study For 81 the norms and values emerge from the interaction process For ethnomethodologists the origin of norms and values is not of interest Instead they are interested in the process by which humans interact and show that they are following norms and values The Stranger The stranger has to interpret the cultural pattern of a social group and orient himselfherself to it The stranger has to question everything that is unquestionable to the members of the approached group How to bring to light the implicit rules the taken for granted rules of every day life The sociologists has to take the role of the stranger someone who is unfamiliar with the taken for granted aspects of everyday life We can understand the everyday situations we experience by treating them as problems Sociologists have to separate themselves from the expectations of everyday life to discover the expected Ethnomethodology does not attempt to explain human behavior rather the emphasis is on description and the subject matter is how people make sense of everyday life Doing ethnomethodology Accounting People s ability to announce to themselves and to others what they are getting out of a situation It involves both language and meaning Ethnomethdologists will ask Tell Me About It to learn the meaning of an act object word from the perspective of the actor Much accounting is done in abbreviated form because conversation assumes a common understanding of many things Wordsphrases that are mutually understood but not explained were referred to as indexical expressions by Garfmkel Accounts and meanings in any situation depend on the nature of the situation The meanings that any two people attach to an interaction are linked to its location and time the persons present the purpose or intention of the actors and their knowledge of each other s intentions Social interaction is explicable only in context The sanctioned properties of common discourse refers to the expectation that there will be no interference with the conduct of everyday affairs in the form of questions about what is really being said It is expected and required that people will understand plain everyday talk so that conversations can be held without interference Questioning the speaker about meaning may be considered a violation of the scene Breaching experiments The meaning that people give to everyday life is the subject matter of ethnomethodology Research will be openended questions How do we return to normal after being interrupted By tracking the process we describe everyday life Examples of breaching Break a rule and watch how people return to their normal behavior Watch how people respond to rulebreaking to find out what the rules are and what normal behavior is Talk on an elevator Wave at strangers Offer a gift to a stranger Refuse an offer refuse to walk in a door opened by the person in front of you Laugh at something that is not funny or don t laugh at something that is funny These are not macro topics these are topics that allow us to learn how individuals interpret and interact Garfinkels concept of trust is similar to Parson s use of shared normative expectations Rules are ambiguous and they are perceived and interpreted differently but the actor trusts the environment in times of uncertainty Ethnomethodolgy vs symbolicinteractionism Like S I ethnomethodology is a socialpsychological approach concerned with individuals and not roles and structure The questions asked by an ethnomethdologist are different from those asked by a 81 Sl believes that meanings can be selfevident while ethnomethdologists are interested in the properties of meanings or the structure of the rules of the game How do the rules of the game or the rules of conduct inform the actor about the nature of their environment How does the actor go about making sense of hisher environment in socially acceptable ways How does the actor make sense of the situation when the rules change


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