Symbolic Interaction is One of Many Theories Related to Conflict

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The symbolic interaction perspective, also called symbolic interactionism, is a major framework of sociological theory. This perspective relies on the symbolic meaning that people develop and rely upon in the process of social interaction. This perspective has a very long and thorough history, beginning with George Herbert Mead who is considered a founder of Symbolic Interactionism when Mead passed away he didn’t leave a treatise of his work.

One of his students, Herbert Blumer coined the term “Symbolic Interactionism and outlined these basics premises: humans interact with things based on meanings ascribed to those things; the ascribed meaning of things comes from our interactions with others and society; the meanings of things are interpreted by a person when dealing with things in specific circumstances.” (Blumer 1969).

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In simpler terms, people make their decisions based on how much that decision is going to affect them, and whether society will judge them for making that specific decision. Symbolic Interaction focuses on how people communicate with one another through everyday interactions, and we perceive and define events that occur. Everyone in the world has specific expectations of what should happen with each interaction, every interaction has a positive or negative effect whether we expect it or not. Scientists must use tactics when researching these interactions and use concentrations to decipher gestures, body language, use of language.

A symbol is a stimulus that is arbitrary and abstract to which is meaning is applied too. Symbols are used to represent other things. We need symbols to connect, coordinate and have ideas. Some of the original terms were created over one hundred years ago. Language is always changing, and the terms that are used for a symbolic interaction are as well. When you read about this theory it is important to see why this theory is relevant and always changing with human communication.

In symbolic interaction, a traditional yet unfortunate and unnecessary distinction has been made between basic and applied research. The argument has been made that basic research is intended to generate new knowledge, whereas applied research is intended to apply knowledge to the solution of practical (social and organizational) problems. The distinction between basic and applied research in symbolic interaction is outdated and dysfunctional.

Current interactionist work continues this tradition in topical areas such as social justice studies. Applied research, especially in terms of evaluation and needs assessment studies, can be designed to serve both basic and applied goals. Symbolic interaction provides three great resources to do this. The first is its orientation to dynamic sensitizing concepts that direct research and ask questions instead of supplying a priori and often impractical answers. The second is its orientation to qualitative methods and appreciation for the logic of the grounded theory. The third is interactionism’s overall holistic approach to interfacing with the everyday life world. One of the most important and exciting resources symbolic interactionism offers applied research is its commitment to discovery.

This article is informing due to symbolic interaction due to the changing values of social justice. About 40 years ago, even 20 years ago it was very more difficult to voice your opinion on social justice. Now you can just post on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. All you can do for the most part now is just post a symbol or an emoji and people will understand what you are trying to say that are educated on the matter. People are more active and more aware of what is going on throughout the world. Finding a cause, you support and using social media to show your support through symbols and tweets is more effective than it was 20-40 years ago.

“Symbolic interactions involve a degree of randomness, improvisation and play, as noted by Goffman (1967), and well developed in Bourdieu’s Theory of Habitus, Disposition, and Field.” (1977) This allows for a breakdown in interaction rituals, which can lead to atomization and disconnection from a “normal” way of life.

The article below involves Australia’s National Servicemen the trials and tribulations that were involved in combat. It shows that the sophisticated ways to overcome the experiences that young men dealt with during this time in history.

Military service is an appealing case study through which to explore these ideas further as it involves intense shared emotional experiences. Australia’s National Servicemen (conscripts during the Vietnam War Era) are prime candidates for having experienced intense emotional rituals connected with training and war. In brief, whilst the nature of service in Vietnam was quite diverse, it involved combat for some, the threat of enemy attack and/or mine detonation for most, and the shared experience of being in a foreign culture during the war for all; experiences which have been characterized as intensely emotional (Grossman, 2009).

This article is important due to the everlasting impacts that war has on our veterans. It shows that they are constantly fighting a battle when they return home from combat. It shows that symbolic interaction occurs and is shared through emotional and traumatic experiences. For example, during the Vietnam war, protesters flew the US flag upside-down which that means (distress) to show their hatred of the war, and some protesters also burned the flag, an act that is almost guaranteed to provoke outrage and hostility from onlookers.

Given the level of importance placed on teamwork and cohesiveness by employers and others concerned about youth transitions into fully engaged adulthood and the research on teamwork in youth programs, the effects on the outcome of teamwork skills of three different and independent Symbolic Interaction Theory (SIT) based after-school program experiences.

“In the coming decades, as young people enter the workforce and active citizenry, will they have what it takes to contribute and fully engage as team members in a complex member,” (Ellis & Sibthorp, 2006, p. 40), but research on teamwork in youth programs is scarce. “Yet, teamwork, decision making, and communication are three critical skills for young people’s success in the workforce.” (America’s Promise Alliance, 2006). Employers seek new employees with abilities for strong communication, teamwork, and problem-solving effectiveness (National Association of Colleges and Employers, 2012).

One way to understand how youth outcomes can occur in after-school programs is through Symbolic Interaction Theory. Symbolic Interaction Theory (SIT) describes the inherently evolving processes of people interacting, interpreting, and placing symbolic meaning in the context of their experiences (Blumer, 1969; Charon; 1979; Denzin, 2009; Kuhn, 1964). People construct meanings from interactions with the physical, social, and abstract elements of a setting (Charon, 1979). The main assumptions in SIT are that humans are capable of acting based on creating meanings, shaping, and guiding their own behaviors.

Talking about my artifact from my Application Paper I feel this applies to the meme that was posted on Twitter. For this reason, people have different meanings attached to the same symbol. The #HimToo tweet posted on Oct 6. 2018 was seen by millions of people on Twitter, News outlets such as CNN, Fox News. Some took the tweet as a mom that was proud of what her son accomplished with his service to our country. Others saw it as an ill-advised tweet that upset a lot of people. The tweet read “This is MY son,” she wrote above the picture of the smiling uniformed man.

“He graduated #1 in boot camp. He was awarded the USO award. He was #1 in school and in his class. He is a gentleman who respects women. He won’t go on solo dates due to the current climate of false sexual accusations by radical feminists with an ax to grind. I VOTE. #HimToo.” Although it originally began as a way for men to share their own experiences with sexual assault, #HimToo has become something of a reactionary response to the #MeToo movement, propagated by those who maintain that false accusations of rape against men are exceptionally common and a threat to men everywhere.

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Symbolic interaction is one of many theories related to conflict. (2021, Dec 01). Retrieved from