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Symbolic Interaction Theory

 

Explanations > Theories > Symbolic Interaction Theory

Description | Research | Example | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

People act based on symbolic meanings they find within any given situation. We thus interact with the symbols, forming relationships around them. The goals of our interactions with one another are to create shared meaning.

Language is itself a symbolic form, which is used to anchor meanings to the symbols.

Key aspects are:

  • We act toward others based on the meaning that those other people have for us.

  • Meaning is created in the interactions we have with other people in sharing our interpretations of symbols.

  • Meanings are modified through an interpretive process whereby we first internally create meaning, then check it externally and with other people.

  • We develop our self-concepts through interaction with others.

  • We are influenced by culture and social processes, such as social norms.

  • Our social structures are worked out through the social interactions with others.

So what?

Using it

Pay attention to the symbols within the persuasive context and utilize them. You can place the symbols there. How people interpret them includes how you interpret them. 

Defending

Pay attention to the symbols within the persuasive context and notice how they are affecting what happens.

See also

Constructivism, Social Comparison Theory, Selective Perception

http://www.soci.niu.edu/~sssi/, http://www.geocities.com/oneill_g/symbolic_interactionism.html, http://www.colorado.edu/communication/meta-discourses/Papers/App_Papers/Nelson.htm

References

LaRossa and Reitzes (1993)

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