“Imagine an inner dialog of some Northern European who is trying to decide how hard to work, or what to do with their nest egg”(Fancy). “But be sure to frame it in your understanding of symbolic interactionism and the subject- object perspective. “(Fancy). I really have a hard time grasping that subject because it seems just so very distant to how I see the symbolic interactionism. When I look at my paper on the Protestant Ethic, I cannot find a way to describe this quote for this Blumer paper. I will try to explain this from my understanding of Symbolic interactionsim.
Symbolic interactionsim is a sociological perspective which examines how individuals and groups interact, focusing on the creation of personal identity through interaction with others. Of particular interest is the relationship between individual action and group pressures. This perspective examines the idea that subjective meanings are socially constructed, and that these subjective meanings interrelate with objective actions. ” (Wikipedia). How do human beings act toward things on the basis of meanings that the things have for them?
Well my first inclination includes objects such as physical objects, other human beings, institutions, guiding ideals, and activities of others and such situations as an individual encounters in his or her daily life. An example of this is the attitude each individual has toward a certain object like a wine bottle or a pack of cigarettes. One person might see these objects as causes of cancer and death, whereas someone else might consider these items as just being a part of having a really good time.
According to Blumer, these two individuals will act differently toward these items as well. Another example is a kiwi. Well I think kiwi is sweet and tasty while one of my friends thinks kiwi is nasty and furry and she wants nothing to do with it. The reason for her hating this fruit is her allergic reaction to it. So each of us has a different meaning for the same fruit because of the reaction we get from it. Every day we communicate and interact with others. In each situation we go through a interpretive process to decipher meanings.
Even though we might have our own meanings for objects, we have to readjust ourselves to communicate with the other person and the meaning they have for a particular object. For example we might think soda is something that we bake with or put in the fridge to absorb odors when another person might think soda is something that is to drunk. These two meanings could have a lot to do with the persons age. Person (a) could be 22 years old and person (b) could be 6 years of age. These meanings come from interacting in two different environments or as Blumer would say “worlds”.
Individuals have to go through an interpretive process in order to come to the conclusion that soda for the 6 year old was pop and that soda for the 22 year old was baking soda. The theory of Symbolic Interactionism is strong in that it provides a basis to understand the establishment of meaning. As I understand it, Symbolic Interactionism falls under the category of a Humanistic theory. It has creative meaning – interaction gives humans meaning. It has free will – every human has meanings which can change at any time.
It has rules for interpretation meaning, language, and thought. And it uses a ethnography to find meaning. Symbolic Interactionism also meets the five humanistic standards that make a good theory. There is a new understanding of the people where we get meaning. There is a clarification of values. Meaning comes from interaction, so interaction is important to human society. There is fake appeal that the theory is in really, easy to understand parts. There is a community of agreement Blumer’s ideas are adopted by people in the academic community.
And finally there is a reform of society because meaning comes from interaction, interaction must not be taken for granted. Although Symbolic Interactionism is a good theory by humanistic standards, there is a judgement of the whole basis for it. While Blumer insists that the interpretive process and the context in which it is done is a very important element in the person’s use of meaning, while a social interactionist believes that meaning kind of occurs out of the interaction between people, while a contradicting point of view says that meaning is already established in a person’s psychological make-up.
That is kind of like social psychology isn’t it? While it is debatable if Symbolic Interactionism is a good theory, or not, I think it is very effective in evaluating human interaction. The kiwi is the perfect example of how different meanings can cause interpretation problems. While this is a fairly insignificant example, it is easy to see how larger problems can arise if the lines of interpretation are not open, and assumptions are made. This paper was pretty hard for me.