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Book part
Publication date: 26 July 2016

Patrick J. W. McGinty

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…

Abstract

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.

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The Astructural Bias Charge: Myth or Reality?
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-036-7

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Book part
Publication date: 16 October 2013

Lonnie H. Athens

In this chapter, the approach of radical interactionism is juxtaposed against symbolic interactionism, its older conservative turned rival cousin, to highlight primarily…

Abstract

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.”

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Radical Interactionism on the Rise
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78190-785-6

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Book part
Publication date: 5 February 2019

Jean-François Côté

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…

Abstract

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.

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The Interaction Order
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-546-7

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Book part
Publication date: 7 July 2004

Elżbieta Hałas

The decisive antidualism in Bourdieu’s thought permits searching for the complementary traits of his theory of symbolic social system and symbolic interactionism, rather…

Abstract

The decisive antidualism in Bourdieu’s thought permits searching for the complementary traits of his theory of symbolic social system and symbolic interactionism, rather than opposition. The theory of the symbolic social system, which is characterized by the double structure of meanings in the order of social relations and its symbolic representation in the narrower sense, has many convergent points of view with the symbolic interactionists’ perspective, starting with the category of habitus. Conceptual frameworks of structuralist constructivism and symbolic interactionism have one major difference – in Bourdieu’s theory the individual self is not inscribed. There are, however, strong common premises in terms of epistemology, theory of meaning and social ontology. Both epistemologies are antidualistic and relativistic (antiessentialism). Both approaches are based on a common theory of the social origin of meaning (anticognitivism). Both social ontologies are constructivist (social construction of reality). However, Bourdieu’s concept of symbolic struggle for control over the commonsense world-view introduces a new, political dimension to interpretive sociology.

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Studies in Symbolic Interaction
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-261-0

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Book part
Publication date: 16 October 2013

James A. Shaw

Athens’ Radical Interactionism and Rorty’s neopragmatism represent two differing interpretations of pragmatist philosophy that are used to inform contemporary approaches…

Abstract

Athens’ Radical Interactionism and Rorty’s neopragmatism represent two differing interpretations of pragmatist philosophy that are used to inform contemporary approaches to social inquiry. Athens’ and Rorty’s views differ greatly in their positions on the implications of a Darwinian worldview, leading to different perspectives on the value and role of truth, scientific method, and rationality in engaging in social inquiry and political reform. By tracing out the differences between Radical Interactionism and neopragmatism with respect to epistemology, social science, and political reform, I show that Athens’ Radical Interactionism accomplishes more to inform concrete social inquiry and political change. While Rorty’s neopragmatism helps readers to situate pragmatist-inspired inquiry in its evolutionary context, his work provided little guidance for social science. Conversely, Athens’ Radical Interactionism expands upon the value of a pragmatist version of rationality and scientific method, directing researchers’ attention to domination and dominance orders in contemporary social life. Furthermore, the Darwinian underpinnings of both Athens’ and Rorty’s pragmatist-inspired philosophies suggests that concepts in social inquiry are to be understood as sensitizing as opposed to definitive. As such, Athens’ Radical Interactionism remains true to the pluralistic thrust of pragmatist philosophy by conveying domination as a sensitizing concept in contrast to a more neo-positivist definitive concept.

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Book part
Publication date: 23 April 2013

Christine Teague, David Leith and Lelia Green

This chapter uses symbolic interactionism as a theoretical framework for considering data produced during two in-depth ethnographic investigations: one at Orco, a minerals…

Abstract

This chapter uses symbolic interactionism as a theoretical framework for considering data produced during two in-depth ethnographic investigations: one at Orco, a minerals processing facility; the other at RTE, the Rail Transport Executive of an urban region in Australia. It discusses the value of symbolic interactionism in revealing the detailed importance of interaction between managers and workers and, particularly, within specific workgroups. It argues that regular, repeated and intense interaction such as characterizes daily work in high-pressure occupations helps establish subcultures. It is then comparatively easy for a subculture group to develop its own values and meanings in opposition to those promulgated by management. The two case studies differ significantly around the organizational value placed on investigating injuries and accidents. In the Orco workplace, injury statistics are clearly communicated and workers believe that the “zero injury workplace” is a management priority. In the RTE, transit officer injuries are kept confidential and workers believe that a major purpose of investigations is to show how individual workers are at fault. In both cases, however, the work group has developed an informal safety culture at odds with that promoted by managers.The conclusion drawn by the end of the chapter is that managers seeking to influence the safety cultures of workers in dangerous and fraught occupations should pay close attention to the ways in which those workers operate at a symbolic distance from management. They should engage with the workers to understand the symbolic value placed by frontline staff upon the meanings attributed to safe work practices, and should collaborate together to develop a shared safety culture in which workers are protected by active management engagement in their symbolic reality. Where this occurs, workers’ perspectives are appreciated at the same time as their practices become more regulated and aligned with managerial wishes. Symbolic interactionism offers a rich perspective that takes into account the dynamism of changing circumstances and that works outwards from the thought processes of individuals through to interactions across entire organizations.

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40th Anniversary of Studies in Symbolic Interaction
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78190-783-2

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 1992

James H. Leigh and Terrance G. Gabel

Considers the concept of symbolic interactionism within the contextof consumer behaviour. Examines the implications for market strategythrough segmentation variables…

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Abstract

Considers the concept of symbolic interactionism within the context of consumer behaviour. Examines the implications for market strategy through segmentation variables, consumer and group characteristics, and general exemplary concepts. Surmises that marketers can create a product′s symbolic image, and should manage that image through a clear and consistent marketing program.

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Journal of Consumer Marketing, vol. 9 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0736-3761

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Book part
Publication date: 7 July 2004

Phillip Vannini

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…

Abstract

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.

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Studies in Symbolic Interaction
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-261-0

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Book part
Publication date: 23 October 2008

Phillip Vannini

Both the history and the historiography of SI show that multiple “different definitions and boundaries” have been applied to the subject of study (Atkinson & Housley

Abstract

Both the history and the historiography of SI show that multiple “different definitions and boundaries” have been applied to the subject of study (Atkinson & Housley, 2003, p. vii). Yet, despite the commonly agreed-upon understanding of SI's heterogeneity, in practice the institutional and disciplinary core of SI unmistakeably resides in its American heartland. For instance, Reynolds and Herman-Kinney (2003a, 2003b, p. ix) preface their fine Handbook of Symbolic Interactionism by aiming at making it “a fine addition to the sociological literature” (my emphasis). Maines (2001, 2003) himself – the most visible critic of the dissolution of SI – focuses on the growing invisibility of interactionism across American sociological theory and research while Fine (1993) and Sandstrom and Fine (2003, p. 1041) find that the “glorious triumph” of SI is due to its successes in “social psychology, medical sociology, deviance, social problems, collective behavior, cultural studies, media studies, the sociology of emotions, the sociology of art, environmental sociology, race relations, social organization, social movements, and political sociology” – hardly an interdisciplinary outlook.

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Studies in Symbolic Interaction
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84855-127-5

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Article
Publication date: 3 December 2018

Nan Wang, Yongqiang Sun, Xiao-Liang Shen, Dina Liu and Xi Zhang

Although user behaviors in social network service (SNS) have been well studied in prior literature, most of these studies focus on those behaviors with relatively deep…

Abstract

Purpose

Although user behaviors in social network service (SNS) have been well studied in prior literature, most of these studies focus on those behaviors with relatively deep user engagement such as information disclosure, while the underlying mechanisms that explain users’ shallow engagement behaviors (e.g. Like behavior) have been rarely discussed. To fill this research gap, the purpose of this paper is to propose and empirically test a research model to identify the antecedents of Like behavior.

Design/methodology/approach

This study identifies the distinctions between post behavior and Like behavior and develops a research model of Like behavior by emphasizing the role of sense of presence from the perspective of symbolic interactionism. The model is tested through a survey with 479 users of WeChat (a popular SNS tool in China). Structural equation modeling, SmartPLS in particular, is used for data analysis.

Findings

Three value perceptions, namely cognitive value, hedonic value and social value, are found to be positively associated with Like intention, and sense of presence is found to affect Like intention both directly and indirectly via the three value perceptions.

Research limitations/implications

The research model is tested based on a specific SNS in China, so whether the conclusions can be applied to other research contexts should be further examined in future research. This study identifies the distinctions between post behavior and Like behavior and suggests to view the Like behavior from the perspective of symbolic interactionism.

Practical implications

The paper outlines ways to effectively promote SNS users’ Like behaviors by enhancing the functions related to three value perceptions, especially by enriching the ways that facilitate interpersonal interactions.

Originality/value

This paper is one of the first to distinguish Like behavior from post behavior in SNS, propose and empirically test a research model of Like behavior. In particular, this paper strengthens the important role of sense of presence from the perspective of symbolic interactionism which has rarely been investigated in prior studies.

Details

Internet Research, vol. 29 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1066-2243

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