Theory- LT6 Symbolic Interactionism

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  • Created by: Heather
  • Created on: 30-04-16 16:21
What type of theory is symbolic interactionism?
Social action theory,
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Is it macro or micro?
Micro theory,
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How do they describe change in society?
Small scale change happens continuously,
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Interactionism is a social action theory created by who?
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How do Functionalists see individual's behaviour?
As being determined by structural factors,
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In contrast, what do Interactionists believe society is made up of?
Individual social actors who are reflective and thinking beings,
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How do Interactionists argue they create society ?
Through their interactions with each other,
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What sociologist suggested Interactionism has three basic functions?
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What is one function based on symbols?
People act in terms of symbols for something else- they have attached meaning,
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What is another function based on meanings?
These meanings develop through interactions and can change,
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What is another function based on interpreting these meanings?
People try to interpet the meanings that others give to their actions by imagining themselves in their position and taking on their role,
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Interactionists such as who believe all individuals what rather than what to external social forces?
-Becker, -Act rather than react
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They therefore believe what socieities are better understood by examing them from a what level?
-Modern society, -Micro level,
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What do they argue we need t ounderstand to understand social behaviour and why?
The reasons people give for their actions, as individuals interpret situations and act in terms of meanings, feelings and emotions,
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Interactionist such as who believe that most aspects of social life is what?
-Becker, -Socially constructed,
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Therefore, how does phenomenon occur if not naturally or objectively?
It is shaped by society and social actors within society (especially power social agencies)
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What sociologist suggests that certain actions people commit are what by who?
-Scheff, -Labelled, -By powerful agents of social control,
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Interactionists maintian labelling can lead to what?
Self-fulfilling prophecies,
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However, what sociolgogists disagrees that we are what of other people's labels?
-Goffman, -Disagrees we are passive victims of other people's labels,
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What does Goffman instead believe?
We contruct out 'self' by manipulating other people's impressions of us.
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Give an example of a model which suggests what about us as actors?
-Dramaturgical model, -We are all actors acting out scripts, resting backstage between performances and present ourselves to our audience,
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What does this model suggest about what we aim to carry off, like an actor aims to persuade the audience?
We aim to carry off a convincing performance of the role we have adopted,
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For applications of interactionism, what do they argue about educational acheivement?
It is socially constructed,
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How do they argue educational achievement is socially constructed?
THrough teacher expectations and streaming inside of schools,
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Give an example sociologist who studied teachers and labelling of working class children? What did they find?
-Gillborn and Youndell, -Suggests teachers are more likely to label working class children as 'disruptive' and therefore treat them that way,
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What did they find happens when the children live up to this label?
They are placed in lower sets,
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However, what sociologist criticised this and why?
-Fuller, -Black year 11 girls were labelled by teachers as 'stupid' and 'disruptive' but they rejected this label and instead used it as a motivator for success,
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For the family, what do interactions suggest about the socialisation process?
The socialisation process is based on interactions between parents and children,
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For crime, how is crime and deviance seen?
Crime and deviance is seen as culturally and historically relative,
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What do interactionists argue about the nature of deviance?
It is the product of powerful agents of social control,
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Give an example with Clarke and AIDS?
Clarke decided in the 1980s passing on the AIDs virus knowingly wouldn't be a crime in the UK,
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What do interactionist suggests takes place with enforcement?
-Selective law enforcement occurs,
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Give an example of selective law enforment?
Blacks are x8 more likely to be stopped and searched by police than whites,
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What does this selective labelling lead to?
Amplification/ careers of deviance,
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Therefore, what to interactionists seek to find in crime?
Individual meanings of crime,
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Give an example of what interactionist and excitment?
-Katz, -Believes crime is connected to the search for excitement and establishing a reputation,
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For links to research methods, what view do they take of society, and therefore what research method do they favour?
Interpretivist, -Non-scientific methods and qualitative researhc methods such as unstructure interviews,
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Give an example of a sociologist who used what to find about sucidial behaviours?
-Baechler, -Case studies,
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What do Baechler find about sucidal behaviour?
It has individual meaning and it can be classified according to the meaning given to the act,
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Give an example of a meaning behind escapist suicide?
Escapist suicide is those trying to release themselves from intolerable situations,
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For strengths of symbolic interaction, who has given it wider theoretical appeal?
Weberian theory and ethnomethodology,
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What do they all agree about importance?
They all agree on the great importance of understanding social meanings in the interactions between human beings,
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Give an example with ethnomethodologists and deviance?
They believe deviance is in the eye of the beholder,
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What is another strength based on determinism?
They overcome determinism as they recognise that individuals have feelings and viewpoints and act in terms of reasons,
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AS interactionism follows what methodology, what does this gain for their findings?
-Interpretivist methodology, -Their empirical findings are high in validity,
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With Douglas, what methods did he use to study the individual meanings of suicide?
Informal interviews and personal documents such as suicide notes,
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What did these documents give him and his findings?
Valid insight into individual meanings,
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For weaknesses, who has criticised interactionists and why?
-Structural theorists, -For failing to recognise or explain the social structures of society,
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What do structural theorists argue interactionists are unwilling to discuss?
The fact that society is a system which is structured by institutions such as education, and which constrain human behaviour,
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What is another criticism based on complexity and society?
Interactionists don't examine the complexity of social life/ society,
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How do interactionists examine society?
Through small scale face to face interactions,
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However, what are they criticised for making no reference to?
The history of these social situations,
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What has this led interactionism to bee seen as and criticised for?
-Seen as full of holes, -Criticised for being a loose collective of descriptive concepts than an explanatory theory,
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What are they criticised for having a weak concept of?
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What to they fail to give reasons for about labelling?
They fail to give reasons why agencies of social control selectively label,
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Why can their views be seen as somewhat deterministic?
As they often too readily assume that self-fulfilling prophecies develop from the process of labelling,
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What is another criticism based on meaning?
Not all action is meaningful,
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Arguably, much of our action is what?
Performed unconsciously or routinely and may have little meaning for actors,
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Therefore, if so, what does interactionism lack?
It lacks the means to explain it,
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While ethnomethodologists argue interactionism is correct for focusing on actor's meanings, what do they argue it fails to do?
Explain how actors create meanings,
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What are the two other types of action theory?
-Phenomenology, -Ethnomethodology,
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For phenomenology, what sociologists suggests what about how we make sense of the world through meaning and categories?
-Hesserl, -Our world only makes sense because we give it meaning by creating mental categories,
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What does he argue the world we know is simply what?
A product of out mind,
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What phenomenologist suggests what about the categories and other members?
-Schutz, -The categories we use are shared by members of society,
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When does he argue these categories vary and an example?
-Varies with the social context, -Raising an arm in class means something different to raising an arm in an auction,
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What do these categories make it possible to do?
Communicate and co-operate,
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They argue our world can only exist when we what?
Share the same meanings,
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For ethnomethodology, what is it interested in?
The methods and rules w eused to produce meanings in the first place,
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What ethnomethodologist suggests what about why order and meaning?
-Garfinkel, -Suggests order and meaning aren't achieved as people are puppet of the social but becuase social order is an accomplishment,
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How do ethnomethodolists attempt to discover this?
By studying people's methods of making sense of the world,
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Other than interactionism, what theory is also a social action theory?
Max Weber,
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What did Weber believe were needed to understand society?
Both structural and action approaches,
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What two levels did Weber suggest were needed for an adequate sociological explanation?
-Level of cause, -Level of meaning
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What does the level of cause involve?
Explaining objective structural factors that shape people's behaviour,
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What does the level of meaning involve?
Understanding the subjective meaning that individuals attach to their actions.
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What does Weber argue our explantion will be if we don't account for both levels?
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Give an example of Weber's theory?
The Protestant work ethic and spirit of capitalism
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What is the cause?
Through the Protestant reformation, Calvinism was created,
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What is the individual meaning?
Work becomes religious, and peopl worked for the best chance to gain entry to heaven,
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What is the result?
Accumulation of wealth and capitalism
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There are many different meanings that people give to their actions. What did four categories did Weber class these in?
-Instrumentally rational argument, -Value rational action, -Traditional action, -Affectual action
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What is instrumentally rational action?
The action that represents the quickest way of reaching a goal,
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Give an example if your goal was to be a teacher?
The quickest route would be to study hard at A-level, to go to Univerty, then study a 3 year teaching degree,
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What is value rational action?
The action and goal are valuable to the person,
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Give an example of actions valuble to Christians?
Worshipping God (action) and going to heaven (goal) are valuable
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What is traditional action?
The routine actions we do regularly,
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What is affectual action?
This is action that express emotion,
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For applications of Weber in religion, what did Weber believe about religion?
That is can disrupt social harmony and be a dynamic force for social change,
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Religion createed the 'spirit of capitalism' which kick started what?
Industrialisation and urbanisation,
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Why did the protestant work ethic lead to the creation of capitalism?
As the ideal view of capitalism and the ideal view of calvinist protestantism are similar
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For links to research methods, how does Weber believe society can be understood?
By looking through the eyes of the individual actors,
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For example, Weber used what term?
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What did Weber define sociology as?
A 'science which attempts the interpretive understanding of social action in order to arrive at causal explanations'
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Therefore, what methods can be used to find out what?
-Qualitative methods -To find out about meanings and contexts,
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For a strenght, who provides theoretical support for Weber and why?
Both symbolic interactionism and ethnomethodology agree on the importance of understanding social meanings in the interactions between individuals,
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What is another strength based on determinism?
Weber's theoru overcomes the deterministic nature of other traditional theories,
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What belef is an improvemnt on theories such as Marxism which over-emphaises structural factors?
His belief in bringing together structure and individual meaning,
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For criticism, what sociolgogist suggest Weber's view on action is too individualistic?
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What does Schutz suggest Weber cannot explain and an example?
It cannot explain how we share meaning e.g. raising an arm in an action means we wish to bid,
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What does he suggest Weber's explanation doesn't account for?
How everyone else knows what the gesture means,
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What is another criticism based on Weber's types of action?
They are often over-lap and become confusing,
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For Trobriand islanders who swap gifts known as 'kula' with other islands, what two actions can this be seen as and why?
-Traditional action as it has been done the same way for generations, -Instrumentally rational action so an effective way of maintainign trading links
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For another criticism, what did Weber believe in to study society?
The use of verstehen and trying and unserstanding another by putting ourselves in their shoes,
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What is a problem with this notion?
We cannot physically become someone else, so how do we know if we have truely understood the meaning?
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Is it macro or micro?


Micro theory,

Card 3


How do they describe change in society?


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Card 4


Interactionism is a social action theory created by who?


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Card 5


How do Functionalists see individual's behaviour?


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