Symbolic Interaction Theory
Thesymbolic interaction theory also referred to as the symbolicinteractionism is one of the primary frameworks of sociologicaltheory. The method relies on the symbolic meaning that is developedby people and dependent upon in the process of social interactions.The symbolic interaction theory can trace its origin to Max Weber,who argued that an individual act according to how they perceive andunderstand the meaning of their world (Handberg,Thorne,Midtgaard, Nielsen & Lomborg, 2015). It analyzes the society byexplaining the idiosyncratic meaning that humans place on objects,events, behaviors. For this reason, the society is considered to besocially shaped according to human perception of the world aroundthem. According to the theory, the interpretation that people haveabout each other is what forms the social bond.
Theunderlying assumption made by the theory is that humans live in asymbolic society in which the meaning of what they have learnedshapes their interactions. The hypothesis also assumes that thesymbols are derived from the social process and are shared amongindividuals. These symbols are believed to have a motivationalsignificance which allows people to carry out precise human actionsand interactions (Rock, 2016). The other assumption of the theory isthat the mind is a functional, volitional, and technological entitythat serves an individual`s interest. According to the theory, themental ability of humans is what separates them from the loweranimals (Handberg et al., 2015). It is their cognitive capacity forthough is what shapes an individual’s social interaction. Thetheory also assumes that humans are born selfless and developself-interest from the interactions they have with others.
Thetheory is important because it helps in explaining how humaninteractions are formed and how symbolic meaning shapes the waypeople perceive the world. The theory gives subjective meaning toobjects given that it is assumed that people will behave according towhat they think is right and not what is objectively true. As aresult, the theory was selected for analysis because it deals withinteraction and communication, which are significant aspects of thesocial sciences field.
Handberg,C., Thorne, S., Midtgaard, J., Nielsen, C. V., & Lomborg, K.(2015). Revisiting symbolic interactionism as a theoretical frameworkbeyond the grounded theory tradition. Qualitativehealth research, 25(8),1023-1032.
Rock,P. (2016). Makingof symbolic interactionism.London: Springer.
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