Essay: Symbolic Interactionism
November 30, 2012
Human existence would be somewhat primal if not for the symbols and the attached meanings we give them. From the time we are born, our surrounding environment has a set symbolic playground ready and waiting for us to accustom ourselves to. Symbols come in the form of labels, stereotypes, titles, letters, signs, shapes, etc. If not for them, life would be something else; although I am not sure what, without the symbols which at times exist like our ability to breathe, life would definitely be a jumble of confusion. With the studies brought forth in the late 1800’s by Charles Horton Cooley, William I. Thomas, and George Herbert Mead, we are better able to understand how the theory of symbolic interactionism plays into the everyday face to face social interaction. The theory helps to explain how some modern day social conflicts may have come to occur. Because of symbols and their given meaning in American society, the topic of gay and lesbianism provides a challenge to what is considered the norm; as a result, pockets of society cannot accept homosexuality, nor do they see the possibility that it can be normal, for it does not line up with the symbols of a man and a woman.
As a child born into a nuclear family, if blessed enough to do so, we immediately experience male and female symbols cohesive with the attachment of mother and father titles. If we have siblings, the same pattern follows with brother and sister connected to a boy and girl. Following this basic understanding, we start to see certain behaviors exhibited by those same individuals which are attached to the behaviors of boys and girls; thus we begin to form our own behavior which is more than likely inline with what we experience. Now the stage is set, and we can then go out into the world full of more symbols which support what girls and boys should and should not act like. Considering the foundation of the family and what was provided at home,...