Herbert Blumer's Symbolic Interactionism Essay

1302 words - 5 pages

Herbert Blumer's Symbolic Interactionism

THE THEORY

Symbolic Interactionism as thought of by Herbert Blumer, is the process of interaction in the formation of meanings for individuals. Blumer was a devotee of George H. Mead, and was influenced by John Dewey. Dewey insisted that human beings are best understood in relation to their environment (Society for More Creative Speech, 1996). With this as his inspiration, Herbert Blumer outlined Symbolic Interactionism, a study of human group life and conduct.

Blumer came up with three core principles to his theory. They are meaning, language, and thought. These core principles lead to conclusions about the creation of a person's self and socialization into a larger community (Griffin, 1997)

The first core principle of meaning states that humans act toward people and things based upon the meanings that they have given to those people or things. Symbolic Interactionism holds the principal of meaning as central in human behavior.

The second core principle is language. Language gives humans a means by which to negotiate meaning through symbols. Mead's influence on Blumer becomes apparent here because Mead believed that naming assigned meaning, thus naming was the basis for human society and the extent of knowledge. It is by engaging in speech acts with others, symbolic interaction, that humans come to identify meaning, or naming, and develop discourse.

The third core principle is that of thought. Thought modifies each individual's interpretation of symbols. Thought, based-on language, is a mental conversation or dialogue that requires role taking, or imagining different points of view.

THE CASE

Last week, I received an exciting e-mail from an old flame named Jeremy. Jeremy and I have been getting to know each other again through the wonderful world of cyberspace. I like e-mall because it doesn't have the nervous element that phone calls do. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the personal touch of phone calls either. The biggest downfall of e-mail is that non-verbal cues are impossible to detect, because of the simple fact that e-mail is not verbal. It is very easy for misunderstanding to arise. Well, Jeremy's e-mail to me on Thursday said he was coming to Boulder the next day, and he was wondering if I wanted "to go out?" I accepted his offer "to go out." With the help of my friends, I picked out the perfect outfit for my date with Jeremy. The girls and I all assumed Jeremy and I would do dinner and a movie because that is pretty much standard date practice. The next night, Jeremy picked me up "to go out" to the bars with him and three of his buddies. I got very angry and he couldn't figure out why. After all, I told him we would "go out."

APPLICATION OF THEORY TO CASE

I can explain the problem between Jeremy and myself using the lens of the three core principles of Symbolic Interactionism as outlined by Herbert Blumer.

The first miscommunication that Jeremy and I had falls under...

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