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The purpose of this conceptual chapter is to analyze the current state of the astructural bias in symbolic interactionism as it relates to three inter-related processes…
The purpose of this conceptual chapter is to analyze the current state of the astructural bias in symbolic interactionism as it relates to three inter-related processes over time: (1) the formalization of critiques of symbolic interactionism as ahistorical, astructural, and acritical perspectives; (2) an ahistorical understanding of early expressions of the disjuncture between symbolic interactionism and more widely accepted forms of sociological theorizing; and (3) persistent and widespread inattentiveness to past and present evidence-based arguments that address the argument regarding symbolic interactionism as an astructural, ahistorical, and acritical sociological perspective. The argument frames the historical development of the astructural bias concept in an historically and socially conditioned way, from its emergence through its rejection and ultimately including conclusions about contemporary state of the astructural bias as evidenced in the symbolic interactionist literatures of the last couple of decades. The analysis and argument concludes that the contemporary result of these intertwined historical and social conditioning processes is that the astructural bias myth has been made real in practice, and that the reification of the myth of an astructural bias has had the ruinous effect of virtually eradicating a vital tradition in the interactionist perspective which extends back to the earliest formulations of the perspective. As a result, a handful of suggestions that serve to aid in reclaiming the unorthodox structuralism of symbolic interactionism and the related interactionist study of social organization are provided in the conclusion.
In this chapter, the approach of radical interactionism is juxtaposed against symbolic interactionism, its older conservative turned rival cousin, to highlight primarily…
In this chapter, the approach of radical interactionism is juxtaposed against symbolic interactionism, its older conservative turned rival cousin, to highlight primarily the major differences between them. The five key differences identified are as follows: (1) the major progenitors for symbolic interactionism are Mead and Blumer, while those for radical interactionism are Park and, by default, myself; (2) although radical interactionism presumes that domination and power are always of great importance for understanding human group life, symbolic interactionism assumes that they now have only limited importance for understanding it; (3) radical interactionism makes it mandatory for researchers to examine the role of dominance and power during social interaction, whereas symbolic interactionism makes it only discretionary; (4) while radical interactionism stresses the impact of individuals’ and groups’ unstated assumptions on their interaction with one another, symbolic interactionism de-emphasizes their impact on it; and finally (5) radical interactionism discourages, while symbolic interactionism encourages researchers falling into the trap of linguistic phenomenalism. Thus, unlike radical interactionism, symbolic interactionism facilitates sociologists not only falling prey to linguistic phenomenalism, but also conservative and idealistic biases, while allegedly conducting “value-free research.”
My project is to develop a phenomenological, constructionist, symbolic interactionist theory of the narrative productions of meaning in the public realm. Situated within…
My project is to develop a phenomenological, constructionist, symbolic interactionist theory of the narrative productions of meaning in the public realm. Situated within our globalized, technologically mediated world characterized by extraordinary social, political, economic, and moral fragmentation, my basic question is quite practical: How can public communication be understandable and persuasive to audiences whose experiences, world views, and moral sensibilities are so different? Here I explore how the more-or-less widely shared systems of meaning in symbolic codes and emotion codes are incorporated into narratives that circulate in the public sphere. I conclude with arguing that more attention by symbolic interactionists to these productions of meaning would be good for the study of culture and good for symbolic interactionism.
The purpose of this paper is to analyze the relation between perceived cultural distances and the willingness to adjust symbolic leadership by expatriates. Further, it is…
The purpose of this paper is to analyze the relation between perceived cultural distances and the willingness to adjust symbolic leadership by expatriates. Further, it is asked whether this adjustment has the potential to increase their acceptance as leader by the foreign workforce.
The research derives testable propositions from symbolic leadership theory and the theory about cultural distance and transfers them into a structural equation model in order to identify the impact of cultural distance on expatriates’ adjustment effort. Therefore, an empirical investigation among German expatriates in the Philippines was conducted.
The study contributes to the understanding of symbolic leadership in several unique ways. It is found that there is a relationship between perceived cultural distance and a willingness for symbolic leadership behavior in order to reduce social sanctions caused by unappropriated symbolism. The study shows that willingness to adopt foreign symbols does not lead to an increased acceptance.
This research implies that the willingness alone is not sufficient if the appropriate cultural knowledge and required skills do not exist. Thus, this study points to the importance of expatriates’ cultural knowledge for the success of foreign assignments.
The notion of tacit knowledge is mostly discussed with regard to experts’ knowledge (Sternberg et al., 1995). It is less discussed in the context of interpersonal…
The notion of tacit knowledge is mostly discussed with regard to experts’ knowledge (Sternberg et al., 1995). It is less discussed in the context of interpersonal interactions, which are very common in organizations and in certain occupations (e.g. negotiations and therapy). The limited reference to this aspect is due to the lack of appropriate methodologies. This study aims to deal with this lacuna; specifically, how to elicit tacit knowledge in professions based on interpersonal interactions.
A case study was chosen to demonstrate the use of symbolic interaction key concepts (Goffman, 1959) as a method to evoke tacit knowledge. The information was gathered from interviews conducted among 20 business negotiation experts. The “onion” model (Asher and Popper, 2019) was used as a tool to analyze various layers of tacit knowledge.
The suggested framework enabled the exploration and characterization of tacit knowledge in professions based on interpersonal interaction, which would not have otherwise emerged.
As interpersonal interaction is a complex and abstract occurrence, the authors propose a conceptual framework (symbolic interaction), which allows for the characterization of such occurrences and a tool (the “onion” model) that allows for the classification of the elicited tacit knowledge.
The study suggests an original framework, which enables the identification and analysis of tacit knowledge in a context that is very common in organizations but is, yet, partially explored – personal interactions. The use of the suggested framework can possibly bridge the gap between unconscious personal learning and knowledge that can be used at the organizational level.
This chapter examines the issue of the “astructural bias” critique of symbolic interactionist theory and research practice by reconsidering the conception of structure in…
This chapter examines the issue of the “astructural bias” critique of symbolic interactionist theory and research practice by reconsidering the conception of structure in light of work within the French social theoretical tradition that reflects upon this concept. Proceeding through the work of Georges Bataille, Jean Baudrillard, and Marshall Sahlins, the chapter examines the evolving theorization of symbolic structures. Bataille’s theory of the “general economy” and the “labyrinth” provides an initial expansion of the concept of structures and formulating symbolic practices as fundamental to the structuring of the social order. Baudrillard expands this work on symbolic structures with his analysis of symbolic exchange and seduction, taking Bataille’s initial work into a more nuanced analytical perspective and applies it to a range of cultural practices, including fashion, an area of particular interest to symbolic interactionism. Marshall Sahlins, directly influenced by Baudrillard, refines much of this thinking through his theorization of cultural reason, and provides anthropological field research to illustrate some of this theory, taking this thought into more conventional social scientific territory and offering examples of its methodological possibilities. The chapter suggests that symbolic interactionists can move from a defensive position regarding the presumed astructural character of their work to a more positive case for its status as a particularly acute form of engagement with a range of social structures.
The sociology of education has various traditions which examine the connections between education, culture, and inequality. Two of these traditions, symbolic…
The sociology of education has various traditions which examine the connections between education, culture, and inequality. Two of these traditions, symbolic interactionism and critical theory, tend to ignore each other. This paper creates a dialogue between these traditions by applying symbolic interactionist (SI) and radical interactionist (RSI) sensibilities to an important study for resistance theory, Paul Willis’ classic ethnography Learning to Labor (1977). The SI reading of Learning to Labor emphasizes the importance of group interactions and the creation of meaning, while the RSI reading highlights how domination unfolds in social interaction. We argue that SI and RSI have much to offer Learning to Labor, as these readings can avoid some of the critiques commonly leveled on the book regarding the linkage between theory and data, structure and agency, and the book’s conceptualization of culture. Likewise, we argue that the data in Learning to Labor have much to offer SI and RSI, as the material provides grist to further understand the role of symbols in domination while identifying escalating dominance encounters that create a set of patterned interactions that we describe as a “grinding” social order.
The place of G. H. Mead’s works in symbolic interactionism is both central and paradoxical. It stands at the very foundation of Hebert Blumer’s initial invention of…
The place of G. H. Mead’s works in symbolic interactionism is both central and paradoxical. It stands at the very foundation of Hebert Blumer’s initial invention of symbolic interactionism with respect to Mead’s social behaviorism and has been discussed and debated ever since because of the problems caused by such a presumed direct filiation. Returning to Mead in order to broaden the perspective offered by Blumer is a must and has to face some fundamental issues raised in this context. This article starts by examining the ontogenetic and phylogenetic processes involved in Mead’s concept of society, in order to show the multiple dimensions involved in significant symbols. An illustration of Mead’s wider perspective is given in reference to the feminist movement as analyzed first by Mead’s student, Jessie Taft, and goes back to the origin of the movement with Mary Wollstonecraft. This leads to the analysis of the debate about the place of power in symbolic interactionism, initiated by Peter M. Hall, and addresses the alternative between domination and emancipation. This alternative has been worked out by Lonnie Athen’s radical symbolic interactionism analysis of domination on the one side, and by Kathy Charmaz and Norman K. Denzin on the other side of emancipatory symbolic interactionist practices. Another solution is proposed to this alternative, with the analysis of power being intrinsically constituted by domination and emancipation, in their respective contribution to the understanding of the symbolic dispositions of autonomy – a concept that remains relatively undeveloped in Mead’s works.
Despite the attention that Charles Sanders Peirce and Herbert Blumer dedicated to semiosis, symbolic interactionism still clearly lacks a theory of the sign. Attempts to…
Despite the attention that Charles Sanders Peirce and Herbert Blumer dedicated to semiosis, symbolic interactionism still clearly lacks a theory of the sign. Attempts to appropriate Saussurean semiology and deconstruction have been made, but these have often resulted in, respectively, denying the importance of interaction and interpretation, or in implying the demise of meaning. In this article I propose an interpretive analytics of the sign by building upon Peircean semiotics and social semiotics. I examine the sign as a tripartite process of relations among object, representamen, and interpretant and analyze processes of production, distribution, and consumption of signs, and how these processes are shaped by power dynamics. I discuss how socio-semiotic codes are constituted through specific ideological discursive practices, and how these discursive practices are contingent on exo-semiotic conditions. Finally, I reflect on the importance of this approach for the continued growth of symbolic interactionism.
Social theory contains contributions related to the processes of semiosis. Between the subjective experience of intentional meanings and objectivized structure of meanings…
Social theory contains contributions related to the processes of semiosis. Between the subjective experience of intentional meanings and objectivized structure of meanings there is a sphere of meaningful interactions and collective actions. Arguments are presented that it is possible to integrate symbolic interactionist orientation and Durkheimian tradition in the study of social symbolism in the perspective of collective action approach and pragmatism. That allows going beyond the cognitive limitations inherited from phenomenological view on symbolism as manifested in the concepts of P. Berger and T. Luckmann about the social construction of reality. A model for a multidimensional analysis of social symbolism and its functions is proposed.