Chapter One: Symbolic Interactionism

Symbolic Interactionism was developed in what century?
Symbolic Interactionism was developed in what century?
The 20th Century
(1900-2000)

What is the key difference between Symbolic Interactionism and the Structural and Conflict perspectives?
What is the key difference between Symbolic Interactionism and the Structural and Conflict perspectives?
Symbolic Interactionism is a “micro” perspective which focusses on individual behaviors and interactions.
“Macro” perspectives like Structural and Conflict focus on larger groups, structures, and institutions.

What key element of society does Symbolic Interactionism focus on?
What key element of society does Symbolic Interactionism focus on?
The symbols that we all use to make sense of our social world. For example, the meaning of a “swastika.”

Symbols include what kinds of items?
Abstract things like Signs, Gestures, Expressions, Pictures, Words and even the Letters that make up the words.

How do we agree on the meaning of symbols?
How do we agree on the meaning of symbols?
By “socially negotiating” them.

Interactionists believe that the social negotiation of symbols is what has created society and is what keeps it going.

Symbolic Interactionists believe that once a symbol’s meaning has been socially negotiated it is permanent and has a universal meaning and usage: True of False?
False. Symbolic Interactionism is founded on the understanding that the meanings we socially negotiate for symbols are arbitrary and in flux.

Define
Define “arbitrary.”
“Subject to individual judgment or preference, based on individual opinion, discretion, or understanding.”

Define
Define “flux.”
“Continuous flowing change.”

Symbolic Interactionist George Herbert Mead proposed that society begins where?
Symbolic Interactionist George Herbert Mead proposed that society begins where?
Mead proposed that society begins in the mind of the individual when we encounter and interpret symbols from the outside world.

What landmark sociological book is attributed to Mead?
What landmark sociological book is attributed to Mead?
“Mind, Self, and Society” 1931, Chicago School. Remember that he did not actually write it. Instead, his students gathered his lecture notes and put them together as a book after he died. It was that important to them! It is in our library if you would like to read it for extra credit.

Howard Becker described
Howard Becker described “deviance” in terms of what social process?
Labeling.

Becker proposed that deviance only existed if it is labeled as such by someone, or some group, with the power to do so.

Thus, what is deviant is arbitrary and in flux, not fixed!

What deviant social actors did Becker base his labeling theory on?
What deviant social actors did Becker base his labeling theory on?
Low down pot smoking jazz players, including himself on piano, working late into the night in crazy-hot clubs in Chicago during the 60’s! His book “Becoming a Marihauna User” is in our library if you would like to read it for extra credit.

Becker wrote what book describing deviance as an abstract social act rather than an exact and concrete thing.
Becker wrote what book describing deviance as an abstract social act rather than an exact and concrete thing.
“Outsiders” 1963, Chicago School. It is in our library, if you’d like to read it for extra credit.

Deviance is always associated with lower classes of people: True or False?
False. Deviance is a label that can be applied to any one person or group and it may cross all strata of society.

Symbolic Interactionist Erving Goffman developed what particular theory to describe our everyday actions and behaviors in society?
Symbolic Interactionist Erving Goffman developed what particular theory to describe our everyday actions and behaviors in society?
Dramaturgy: Humans act “as if” they are in a play and follow the script and the directors accordingly.

Goffman consolidated his theory of dramaturgy in what landmark sociological work?
Goffman consolidated his theory of dramaturgy in what landmark sociological work?
“Presentation of Self in Everyday Life,” 1959, Chicago School. It is in our library, if you’d like to read it for extra credit.

Goffman, after spending almost one full year as an undercover resident at an insane asylum, developed what term to describe the social behavior of both staff and patients?
Goffman, after spending almost one full year as an undercover resident at an insane asylum, developed what term to describe the social behavior of both staff and patients?
Institutionalization. He wrote about this experience in his great book “Asylums,” in 1961. It is in our library, if you’d like to read it for extra credit.

What is the Chicago School of Sociology?
What is the Chicago School of Sociology?
You may research this question for extra credit.