George Herbert Mead developed a sophisticated social and pragmatist model of science, which has escaped the attention of most modern-day scholars and symbolic…
George Herbert Mead developed a sophisticated social and pragmatist model of science, which has escaped the attention of most modern-day scholars and symbolic interactionists. While Mead’s insights have much to offer to contemporary interactionist studies of science and technology, they are not without their shortcomings. In his analyses, Mead tends to put most of his emphasis on the concrete micro-foundations of knowledge production and the functional necessity of science as a problem-solving institution par excellence, yet he fails to seriously question the role of power and domination within the competitive terrain of scientific fields. Lonnie Athens has attempted to reconstitute the basic assumptions of symbolic interactionism by insisting that domination, rather than mere sociality, is the foundation of human existence, since the root of all social acts are comprised of super- and subordinate relations. Changing our fundamental assumptions about social action thus forces us to ask new questions about the micro- and macro-processes we explore in our research. By applying this radicalized lens to Mead’s view of science, I attempt to forge a new interactionist approach, which would better connect with and contribute to the critical wing of the science studies tradition.
A common charge against qualitative researchers in general and interactionist researchers in particular is that they produce descriptive, a-theoretical accounts of group…
A common charge against qualitative researchers in general and interactionist researchers in particular is that they produce descriptive, a-theoretical accounts of group life. We consider the problem of “analytic interruptus” in contemporary symbolic interactionism – that is, a failure to move beyond analyses of individual cases – and offer a potential to a solution via the pursuit of a generic social process (GSP) research agenda. A GSP approach involves developing, assessing, and revising concepts from the close scrutiny of empirical instances across diverse contexts. By considering criticisms of GSPs from feminist and postmodernist scholars, a more informed, qualified, and better-situated approach to the framework becomes possible. We argue that GSPs remain a quintessential analytical tool to explore subcultural realities and build formal theories of the social world.
Open access publishing is an increasingly popular trend in the dissemination of academic work, allowing journals to print articles electronically and without the burden of…
Open access publishing is an increasingly popular trend in the dissemination of academic work, allowing journals to print articles electronically and without the burden of subscription paywalls, enabling much wider access for audiences. Yet subscription-based journals remain the most dominant in the social sciences and humanities, and it is often a struggle for newer open access publications to compete, in terms of economic, cultural, and symbolic capital (Bourdieu, 2004). Our study explores the meanings of resistance held by the editors of open access journals in the social sciences and humanities in Canada, as well as the views of university librarians. To make sense of these meanings, we draw on Lonnie Athens’ (2015) radical interactionist account of power, and expand on this by incorporating George Herbert Mead’s (1932, 1938) theory of emergence, arguing that open access is characteristic of an “extended rationality” (Chang, 2004) for those involved. Drawing on our open-ended interview data, we find that open access is experienced as a form of resistance in at least four ways. These include resistance to (1) profit motives in academic publishing; (2) access barriers for audiences; (3) access barriers for contributors; and (4) traditional publishing conventions.
G. H. Mead's social, developmental, and emergent conception of language and mind is a foundational assumption that is central to the interactionist tradition. However, the…
G. H. Mead's social, developmental, and emergent conception of language and mind is a foundational assumption that is central to the interactionist tradition. However, the validity of this model has been challenged in recent years by theorists such as Albert Bergesen, who argues that recent advances in linguistics and cognitive psychology demonstrate that Mead's social theory of language learning and his theory of the social nature of mind are untenable. In light of these critiques, and drawing on Chomsky's debates with intellectuals such as Jean Piaget, John Searle, and Michael Tomasello, this chapter compares Chomsky's and Mead's theories of language and mind in terms of their assumptions about innateness and the nature and source of meaning. This comparison aims to address the major strengths and weaknesses in both models and shed light on how interactionists might frame these conceptual challenges in future theoretical and empirical research.
George Herbert Mead is an exemplary figure in sociology, and is central to sociological conceptions of the self and social action. However, other important aspects of…
George Herbert Mead is an exemplary figure in sociology, and is central to sociological conceptions of the self and social action. However, other important aspects of Mead's thought have been largely neglected, including his remarkably sophisticated and sociological theory of scientific knowledge. Traditional accounts of the sociology of science identify Thomas Kuhn, and his predecessor, Ludwig Fleck, as pioneers in the social analysis of scientific knowledge, allowing the modern constructionist school of science studies to emerge. This article challenges this history by showing Mead's awareness of the sociological aspects of scientific knowledge in papers that predate both Kuhn and Fleck. Finally, Mead's position attempts to avoid sociological relativism, and offers instead a pragmatist foundation to approach the study of science.
Signs of a new period of theoretical and methodological ferment – consequent real growth – are finally appearing on the horizon. Old theoretical and methodological issues…
Signs of a new period of theoretical and methodological ferment – consequent real growth – are finally appearing on the horizon. Old theoretical and methodological issues that have merely been papered over in the past, stymieing progress for decades, are now undergoing long-awaited resolution. New burning issues necessary to stimulate theoretical and methodological growth are now being raised for resolution in the future. Perhaps, no better evidence of this potential renewal of interactional thought can be provided than in the seven chapters published in this edition of the “Blue-Ribbon Papers.” The first three of these chapters aim to resolve, or – at least – reframe long-standing theoretical and methodological controversies.
In this issue of Studies in Symbolic Interaction, I am pleased to announce the publication of the first set of papers in our newly created “blue-ribbon paper” series. The series is dedicated to publishing cutting-edge papers done from a broadly defined interactionist's perspective. We particularly want to publish the works of new and seasoned scholars that display not only a creative, but also a humanistic bent. We want our series to provide scholars who think “outside the box” about the human condition with a chance to “push the envelope” in their special areas of expertise and interest without fear of having their work rejected for being too avante grade. Thus, our main objective is to help beginning and veteran interactionists whose work “breaks the mold” carve out or expand their niche in the research literature. In the immortal words of Robert Park, the journalist turned sociologist and early interactionist, we want to help scholars who fall into this category find their “spot in the sun.”