Blumer Blackboard

Blumer Blackboard - Symbolic Interactionism a la Herbert...

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Symbolic Interactionism a la Herbert Blumer (1900-1987). I. Blumer's acheivements: Herbert Blumer earned a Ph.D. from the Chicago in Sociology; studied under George Herbert Mead; was on the faculty at the University of Chicago (1927-1952); prior to Mead’s death Blumer took over his course in “Advanced Social Psychology"; taught at the University of California, Berkeley (1952-1987); served as editor of the American Journal of Sociology (1941-1952), and served as ASA President (1956); coined the term symbolic interactionism in 1937 Important books: Symbolic Interactionism: Perspective and Method (1969) II. Blumer's three basic premises of symbolic interaction help to explain the ontological assumptions of this perspective. Be able to describe the three premises and discuss how symbolic interactionists understand human action. Symbolic interactionism rests in the last analysis on three simple premises. The first premise is that human beings act toward things on the basis of the meanings that the things have for them… The second premise is that the meaning of such things is derived from, or arises out of, the social interaction that one has with one’s fellows. The third premise is that these meanings are handled in, and modified through, an interpretative process used by the person in dealing with the things he encounters in his daily life. (Herbert Blumer, Symbolic Interactionism , p. 2.) The first premise is an attempt to argue against both the behavioristic stimulus-response explanation of human behavior common to the early 20 th century and against the Parsonian Functionalism dominant in sociology. Blumer is arguing against a deterministic understanding of human life or attempts to understand human action in terms of some kind of external object causing humans to behave in particular ways. Instead, he argues what makes something an object depends upon the interpretive process of an individual actor: An object—that is to say, anything that an individual indicates to himself—is different from a stimulus; instead of having an intrinsic character which acts on the individual and which can be identified apart from the individual, its character or meaning is conferred on it by the individual. The object is a product of the individual’s disposition to act instead of being an antecedent stimulus which evokes the act. ( SI , p. 80) We could note how this idea builds upon the W.I. Thomas theorem: If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences. Blumer wants to argue that what is important for understanding human events is not their “objective” (as in some rendition of the object apart from the actor’s interpretation) character but how it is that an individual comes to define the “object world” as they do. Objects are objects for individuals and individuals both define and act in relation to the “objects” in their
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Blumer Blackboard - Symbolic Interactionism a la Herbert...

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