Modern Social Theory Essay

1495 words - 6 pages

MODERN SOCIAL THEORYSymbolic interactionism emphasizes the constructed and negotiated aspects of the self and social life more generally. As a result, it shifts attention from analyses of the structural and institutional features of society. How might some of the key concepts in this framework (for instance, meaning, impression management, and definition of the situation, interaction rituals, front and backstage) used to explore social relations in the family, peer groups, religious groups and sporting teams? Reference should be made to Symbolic Interactionism and Dramaturgy .Symbolic interactionism is one of the major theoretical perspectives in sociology. This persepective has a long intellectual history, beginning with the German psychologist and economist Max Weber and American philosopher, George Herbert Mead, both of whom emphasized the subjective meaning of human behaviour, the social process and pragmatism. Erving Goffman is generally associated with the ideas and concepts of symbolic interactionism and was strongly influenced by the work of George Herbert Mead. Goffman's focus was on investigating human interactions and how people presented themselves in everyday settings. Focusing on theories of Symbolic Interactionism and Dramaturgy, I will investigate social relations in work groups, religious groups and sporting teams.Mead is generally regarded as the founder of the symbolic interaction approach. George Herbert Mead was trained in social psychology and philosophy and spent most of career at the University of Chicago. Mead's major work is the Mind, Self and Society (1934), a series of his essays put together after Mead's, in which he emphasizes how the social world develops various mental states in an individual (Craib 1992, p. 85). According to the theory, the meaning of objects, events and behaviours comes from the interpretation people give them. Blumer (1969) proposed three fundamental premises which posits that "human beings act toward things on the basis of the meanings which these things have for them, the meaning of a thing for a person grows out of the ways in which other persons act toward the person with regard to the thing, the use of meanings by the actor occurs through a process of interpretation".Mead viewed the self as an acting organism, not a passive vessel that simply receives and responds to stimuli". According Mead, the distinction between human and non-humans is demonstrated because humans have the ability to delay their reactions to a stimulus. Non-humans display intelligence because they can often act together or adjust what they do to the actions of other animals. While humans may do this through involuntary gestures, Mead thought that only humans can adjust their actions by using significant or meaningful symbols.While the social world is composed of material and objective features, what distinguishes humans is their use of communication through symbols. The use of symbols is simply one of a number of types...

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