-Important that there is a shared understanding of these symbols - so that two or more people an interact. Emergence of SI Theory;-can be traced back to the chicago school -this is the name of a group of thinkers at the uni of chicago -most of them were members of the department of sociology (est. 1892) and it was dominant in american sociology up until 1930’sChicago school 1920’s and 1930’s William Isaac Thomas: some influence in the emergence of symbolic interactionism. Best remembered for his concept; “the definition of the situation” -there is an objective (what actually exists) and subjective reality (what we think exists) -concept suggests people respond to the subjective meaning the situation has rather than to the objective meaning the situation has. ex. talk to people you don't know well, while you talk to them you consider telling a racy joke - size up people you're talking to - based on the impression you get from them you expect they won't get upset. (thats your definition of the situation) act on the def of the situation that may not be the reality of the situation - the reality may be that people get deeply offended bythe joke. Charles Horton Cooley:-one concept is “the looking glass self” George Herbert Mead: had interests that were similar to cooley. Mead had a much more substantial impact on development of symbolic interactionism. -not a sociologist like others, a philosopher at university of chicago. -his book “mind self and society” (published in 1934) became basis of symbolic interactionism. DECLINE OF THE CHICAGO SCHOOL AFTER THE 1930’S
1)one reason was that american sociology became quantitative (turned to statistical studies) qualitative methods associated with chicago school including ‘field research’ seemed less influential. 2)growing influence of structural functionalism - started to dominate sociology in 1940s-50’s. Intro to Sociological Theory Lecture #4 - Jan 15 2016 Chicago school in 1950’s -it remained, and still influenced Herbert Blumer; principle figure in chicago school in the 1950’s. He had been a student of george herbert mead, and very influenced by him. Tried to carry on his ideas and work off of them. -Made the term; “symbolic Interactionism” in 1937. Developed it to describe the work of mead. Mead never called what he did SI, Blumer attached the term to his work. -Blumer tried to carry on Mead’s workErving Goffman; last major figure of the chicago school. made his own contributions to symbolicinteractionism. Published book; “presentation of self in everyday life” (1959) EXTREMELY influential, and it pushed SI in a different direction , different than thoughts of mead. Continuing Impact of Symbolic Interactionism Theory:-even though the school went into decline, it continued to impact sociology; the work of Mead and Goffman especially, has influenced micro studying to this day.