Symbolic Interactionism Is a Term Essay

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Herbert Blumer, having coined the term Symbolic Interactionism, is the person who was instrumental in the development of the Symbolic Interactionism perspective. Blumer was a student of George Herbert Mead. More than writing, publishing, and popularizing Mead's ideas, Blumer built on Mead's ideas and further developed. He believed and theorized that "there was more to human behavior than influences on it by outside forces or uncontrollable psychological factors" (Bandy, Foley, Hatch, Sirle and Snook). Blumer recognized the three basic principles of Symbolic Interactionism which are meaning, language, and thought.

According to Bandy, Foley, Hatch, Sirle and Snook, it was Erving Goffman who expanded the sphere of Symbolic Interactionism. Through his work on the dramaturgical perspective helped expand the realm of Symbolic Interactionism. Erving Goffman's work on the dramaturgical perspective started with the belief that "people seem to follow scripts and play games in interaction" (Canfield). Goffman also stretched Mead's concept of the I and the Me by discussing the anxiety that a social actor experiences "in trying to live up to the expectations of society when enacting the various roles expected of him or her" (Bandy, Foley, Hatch, Sirle and Snook). Furthermore, Goffman also theorized that "a person has a right to be treated in accordance with the way he presents himself, ascribing authenticity to that person" (Canfield). To Goffman, "people do not always act sincerely but they act to avoid embarrassment… role expectations and role performances form the basis of society, as do rules, which act as frames for human action" (Canfield). Goffman's work endeavors to illustrate that way interactions and performances form social reality. People's ability to carry out a persuasive performance by making people believe that they are who they say they are is the way to impress themselves and others.

In my opinion, among the theorists who are instrumental in the evolution of the Symbolic Interactionism perspective, it was Herbert Blumer who developed the most useful theoretical perspective.
Because the Symbolic Interactionism perspective attempts to understand the how people react to things, what meanings they attach to things, and how they interpret and modify the meanings they attach to things, it is a rather general theory as opposed to being specific by focusing on a particular or singular specific component of social structure and activity. It is in this sense that Symbolic Interactionism has a wide range of application. Not only is it an important perspective in understanding society and the units that compose through academic research work. It is also applicable in understanding the individual and is therefore useful in understanding the self. Another useful application of the Symbolic Interactionism perspective is its application industries that use research in order to improve their organization or to generate bigger revenue. The Symbolic Interactionism approach can help industries understand their consumers better. It also has its application in society and various researches have been done using the perspective that Blumer developed in understanding family. These applications contribute to the society in general and prove that Blumer's perspective is useful. References Bandy, Rachel, Foley, Allison, Hatch, Ali, Sirles, Katy, and Snook, Jennifer. Symbolic Interactionism. April 2003. University of Colorado, Boulder. 3 April 2009. . Bartle, Phil. Max Weber. 8 February 2007. Seattle Community Network. 3 April 2009. Canfield, Allan. Symbolic Interaction and Nonverbal Communication Making Sense of Symbolic Interaction. 3 April 2009. . McClelland, Kent. Symbolic Interactionism. 21 February 2000. Grinnell College. 3 April 2009. <>. "Other influential contributors: Charles Horton Cooley." University of Colorado web site. April 2009. <>. "Symbolic Interactionism." University of Colorado web site. April 2009. ......

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