Applications of Symbolic Interactionism Theory
George Herbert Mead begins his discussion of symbolic interactionism (talking with others) by defining three core principles that deal with meaning, language, and thought. The theory states that meaning is the construction of social reality. Humans act toward people or things on the basis of the meanings they assign to those people or things.
The second principle of symbolic interactionism is language, which is the source of meaning. Meaning is negotiated through the use of language. For example, there is nothing small and furry about the word puppy. However, through symbolic interactionism we have learned to associate the word puppy with the real life animal.
The last principle is thought, or taking the role of the other. When we interpret symbols we do this through our own thought processes. Interactionists refer to this as "an inner conversation." People naturally talk to themselves to sort out meanings of situations. They often put themselves in another person's shoes and act as they would act. When we think about assigning meaning to things we interact symbolically.
In Mead's theory he explains a few different applications of symbolic interactionism. I will not cover all of them, however, I will highlight on a couple. The first one is known as our "generalized other". This is the sum total of responses and expectations we pick up from people around us. What this means is by the responses other people give to us we convince ourselves that they are true. An example of this is from the movie "Dangerous Minds," starring Michelle Pfeiffer. In this movie Pfeiffer becomes an inner-city English teacher. She is faced teaching a classroom of kids who their entire life have been brought up in "the hood" and have been looked down upon. Through a style all her own, Pfeiffer teaches these kids and makes them see they can accomplish anything they put their minds to. As a result of the responses Pfeiffer gave these children she made them believe they could succeed....