Interactionism
Introduction to Communication Research Methods
School of Communication Studies
James Madison University
Dr. Michael Smilowitz
2
Interactionism
The most humanistic of the perspectives.
• Exalts the dignity of the individual above all
other influences.
• “The human embodies the essence of culture, or
relationships, of society, of mind” (Fisher, 1978).
• “Every form of social interaction begins or ends
with a consideration of the human self” (Fisher,
1978).
For many, interactionism represents more of a
“philosophy” about human behavior instead of a
design for research methods.
3
Interactionism
• Fisher drew heavily upon the tenets of
symbolic interactionism for the basis of the
interactionism perspective.
• George Herbert Mead is regarded as the
“fountain head” of symbolic interactionism.
4
Interactionism
• Fisher applies the term “interactionism” to a wide
variety of research approaches in communication.
– Fisher regarded the “interactionism” perspective to,
at least loosely, organize much of “qualitative”
research.
– Fisher recognized that much of the research he
would include in interactionism is not the result of
the application of symbolic interactionism per se.
5
Metatheoretical Assumptions
• The development of the self occurs through
interaction with other people.
– This assumption is based on Mead’s
notions regarding the duality of the self.
• The “I” which is the active portion of the
self.
• The “Me” which allows the self to
observe from the standpoint of others.
6
The “I”:
Metatheoretical
Assumptions
• is unpredictable and unorganized.
• contains all possible behavioral
• The development
of the self occurs through
choices.
interaction with other people.
– This assumption is based on Mead’s
notions regarding the duality of the self.
• The “I” which is the active portion of the
self.
• The “Me” which allows the self to
observe from the standpoint of others.
7
Metatheoretical Assumptions
The “Me”:
• The development
of with
the direction,
self occurs
through
• provides the “I”
control,
interaction
with other
people.
and reduces
the ramdomness
of
through
attention
social
– Thisbehavior
assumption
is based
ontoMead’s
mores.
notions
regarding the duality of the self.
• allows the self to act with purpose.
• The “I” which is the active portion of the
self.
• The “Me” which allows the self to
observe from the standpoint of others.
8
Metatheoretical Assumptions
• The duality of the self provides for the process of
self-indication.
– The “I” initiates an act or experiences its reaction to
some stimulus.
– The “Me” allows the individual to observe the “I”
from the standpoint of “another” as the “I” acts or
responds.
The “Me” contains the consciousness of
the individual:
• The past experiences of the “I”;
• The observed experiences of others.
9
Metatheoretical Assumptions
• The duality of the self provides for the process of
self-indication. According to Fisher (1978):
– The “I” initiates an act or experiences its reaction to
some stimulus.
– The “Me” allows the individual to observe the “I”
from the standpoint of “another” as the “I” acts or
responds.
– The process of self-indication allows the individual
to transcend the immediate situation and to go
beyond the limitations of individual experience, past
and present
– Self-indication is a process of continuous
introspection.
10
Metatheoretical Assumptions
• Mead’s notion of the “generalized other” is
necessary to understanding the self’s capacity to
view its actions from the standpoint of others.
Some authors, Fisher (1978) for example,
describe the generalized other as an abstraction
created by self to represent typical members in
the individual’s interactions.
Other authors, Littlejohn (1992), regard the
generalized other as “our individual perception of
the overall way that others see us.”
11
Metatheoretical Assumptions
• Individuality is achieved through the process of role
taking.
–Preparatory
stage
Individuals
create their environment through
• Infants “mirroring” indicates recognizing others as sources
for
behaviors.
their
choices as they create themselves at the
• Infants do not possess meanings for acts.
same
time. The process of developing the
–Play
stage
• social
The child
plays
the this
role of
significant others
in his/her
self,
from
perspective,
views
environment by pretending to be the other person.
masters
ofthan
their
own destinies.
• individuals
Provides the as
child
with more
a unitary
viewpoint of
the self.
–Game stage
• The older child acts according to his/her expectations for
how members of a particular, organized social group should
act.
• Through choices, the individual sets standards for the
interpretation of one’s own acts as well as the acts of others.
12
Metatheoretical Assumptions
• “Minding” provides individuals choice.
– Minding is not a physiological, reactive process,
but “action.”
• Action denotes a behavioral process of acting upon
situations and creating meaning.
– Minding is a process of figuring out what actions
to take in the future.
• Individuals hesitate while they they consciously
assign meanings to the actions of others, events and
situations.
13
Metatheoretical Assumptions
• The two levels of interaction are gestures and
symbols.
– Gestures are actions that are impulsive and
spontaneous (do not involve minding).
• For example, consider what you would do if you
touched a hot burner on the stove?
• There is absence of an interpretive process.
– Symbols require the internal social process of
self-indication and interpretation.
• For example, what makes a particular object “food”?
• Significance of a symbol is directly related to the
commonality (sharing) of the interpretive process.
14
Metatheoretical Assumptions
• The two levels of interaction are gestures and
symbols.
Therefore, in this perspective(Blumer, 1969):
– Gestures are actions that impulsive and
1. Meanings(no
are not
directly
attributable
to social
spontaneous
involve
minding).
processes.
• interaction
For example,
consider what you would do if you
touched a hot burner on the stove?
2. Individuals act toward things on the basis
• of
There
is absencethe
of an
interpretive
process.
the meanings
things
have for
them.
– Symbols require the internal social process of
3. Meanings are created, maintained, and
self-indication
and interpretation.
modified through the “interpretive process”
• used
For example,
what makes
a particular
object
“food”?
by individuals
in dealing
with the
things
• they
Significance
of a symbol is directly related to the
encounter.
commonality (sharing) of the interpretive process.
15
Metatheoretical Assumptions
• Choice, rather than causation (quasidetermination), explains human action.
– Humans are wholly capable of transcending
time.
– The mind is a process of social selection; not an
internal, psychological construct that constrains
human action.
• The locus of communication is in role taking.
16
Typical Components
• Roles
• Symbols as actions (language use in the
broadest sense)
• Cultural context
• Congruence and adaptation
17
Areas of Research
• There is far less research representative of an
interactionist perspective than of any of the other
perspectives.
– Interpersonal
• Studies of role development and role conflict,
interpersonal attraction, family communication.
– Organizational
• Interpretive studies of power, socialization, work
relationships
– Media
• Studies of media usage, impact on family processes, child
development.
18
Advantages
• Emphasizes the importance of symbols
• Draws attention to the interactive processes
of communication.
• Complicates our understanding of human
communication.
• Suitable for studies in various
communication contexts.
19
Disadvantages
• Leads to “difficult” research practices.
• Does not readily permit traditional scientific
measurement processes.
• Criticized as “too subjective” and “highly
philosophical.”
Download

Perspectives IV - James Madison University