Symbolic Interactionism Theory
Interactionism comes in two theoretical forms: Symbolic Interaction and Social Exchange. By
far, my favorite sociological theory is Symbolic Interactionism. Symbolic Interaction claims that
society is composed of ever-present interactions among individuals who share symbols and their
meanings. This is a very useful theory for: understanding other people; improving
communications; learning and teaching skills in cross-cultural relations; and generally speaking,
"not doing harm to your roommates" as many of my students often say after understanding this
theory. Values, communication, witch hunting, crisis management, fear from crime, fads, love
and all that comes with it, "evil and sin," what's hot and what's not, alien abduction beliefs, "who
I am," litigation, mate selection, arbitration, dating joys and woes, and both personal and national
meanings and definitions (September 1, 2001-WTC) can all be better understood using Symbolic
Once you realize that individuals are, by their social natures, very symbolic with one another,
then you begin to understand how to persuade your friends and family, how to understand others'
points of view, and how to resolve misunderstandings. This theory magnifies the concepts of
meanings. Think about these three words, LOVE, LUST, and LARD. Each letter is a symbol.