Symbolic interactionism is a sociological perspective
that stresses the way societies are created through the interactions of individuals.
Unlike both the consensus perspective (structural functionalism) and conflict perspectives, symbolic interactionism does
not stress the idea of a social system possessing structure and regularity.
Symbolic interactionism focuses on the way that
individuals, through their interpretations of social situations and behavioural
negotiation with others, give meaning to social
George Herbert Mead
(1863-1931), a founder of symbolic interactionism, saw interaction as creating and
recreating the patterns and structures that bring society to life, but more recently there
has been a tendency to argue that society has no objective reality aside from individual
This latter view has been criticized for ignoring the
role of culture and social structure in giving shape,
direction and meaning to social interaction. Thus upholding the vality of symbolic
is a sociological perspective stemming from symbolic interactionism.
Dawn Del Carlo
Originally conceived of by Herbert Blumer, symbolic interactionism is a theoretical and
methodological perspective that seeks to understand the socially constructed meaning
behind human behavior and interaction. Grounded within the tenets of social
psychology, symbolic interactionism can be used as a framework to shape educational
research in the sciences. A brief history of symbolic interactionisms
development, a description of its assumptions and methods, and its direct applicability to
science education research including examples of published research will be
Ken Plummer, "Symbolic
Interactionism in the Twentieth Century," Chap. 8 in B. Turner, ed.,
Blackwell Companion to Social Theory
Blumer, Symbolic Interactionism: Perspective and Method (Prentice-Hall,
Deviant Mystique : Involvements, Realities, and Regulation
Book by Robert Prus, Scott Grills. Adopting symbolic interactionism perspective and
building extensively on the ethnographic research tradition, this book analyzes the
mystique that often accompanies deviance by examining deviant
behavior as an ongoing feature of community life.
and Symbolic Interaction: An Impasse at the Generalized
George V. Zito, Syracuse University, 500 University Place, Syracuse, New York 13210.
Jerry Jacobs, Syracuse University, Human Relations, Vol. 32, No. 7, 571-578 (1979)
Attribution theory and symbolic interactionism have developed independently of each
another, although both are concerned with the processes employed by ordinary people to
make sense of their everyday world. The authors seek to define the current impasse, which
they see as further confounding the problem of intersubjectivity.
conflict perspective, symbolic interactionism, and the status characteristics hypothesis
Abstract: Though recent theorists acknowledge the dual theoretical foundation of the labeling theory, they limit their focus in discussions of
the status characteristics hypothesis of labeling to the influence of the conflict
perspective, to the relative neglect of symbolic interactionism. In view of the
acknowledged influence of the conflict perspective on the status characteristics
hypothesis, this paper demonstrates the importance of symbolic interactionism to the
status characteristics hypothesis in three ways: by demonstrating the limits of the
conflict perspective in predicting variations in reaction, especially at the level of
informal reaction; by demonstrating the contribution of symbolic interactionism; and by empirically evidence hypotheses derived from the
theoretical work concerning the determinants of parents' reactions that label their