Symbolic interactionism focuses on looking at the actions and interactions among the individuals rather than at the group level. Symbolic interactionists tend to employ more qualitative, rather than quantitative, methods in their research. Non-Material Culture = abstract human creations like beliefs, ideas, family patterns, and political systems -- like democracy or communism. These beliefs, then, determine how the culture responds to its religious topics, issues, and events. As the symbolic interactionist perspective discussed in Chapter 1 “Sociology and the Sociological Perspective” emphasizes, shared symbols make social interaction possible. The sociology of culture, and the related cultural sociology, concerns the systematic analysis of culture, usually understood as the ensemble of symbolic codes used by a member of a society, as it is manifested in the society.For Georg Simmel, culture referred to "the cultivation of individuals through the agency of external forms which have been objectified in the course of history". Let’s look at nonverbal symbols first. Symbolic interactionism had its most significant impact on sociology between 1950 and 1985. Four of the most important of these are symbols, language, values, and norms. Some symbols are actually types of nonverbal communication, while other symbols are in fact material objects. Symbolic Interactionism grew out of Max Weber ‘s (1864–1920) work on Verstehen . Like many forms of cultural anthropology, symbolic anthropology is based on cross-cultural comparison (Des Chene 1996:1274). Symbolic culture, or nonmaterial culture, is the ability to learn and transmit behavioral traditions from one generation to the next by the invention of things that exist entirely in the symbolic realm. Symbolic interactionism as a theory to understand the micro-level phenomenon of the society was given by George Herbert Mead, though he did not do much work on this.It is a sociological theory, also known as a symbolic interaction perspective. A symbol is some- thing to which people attach meaning and that they then use to communicate with one You can experience it and/or see it in action, but it's not a material thing. The sociology of culture concerns culture as it is manifested in society: the ways of thinking, the ways of acting, and the material objects that together shape a people’s way of life. Symbolic interactionism along with conflict theory and functionalism are the typical perspectives studied in sociology but postmodern perspectives are challenging this tradition. The most significant limitation of the symbolic interactionist perspective relates to its primary contribution: it overlooks macro-social structures (e.g., norms, culture) as a result of focusing on micro-level interactions. 44 CHAPTER 2 CULTURE Figure 2.1 Gestures to Indicate Height, Southern Mexico Components of Symbolic Culture Sociologists sometimes refer to nonmaterial culture as symbolic cul- ture, because its central component is the symbols that people use. Symbolic culture is usually conceived [by whom?] The symbolic interaction perspective, also called symbolic interactionism, is a major framework of the sociological theory.This perspective relies on the symbolic meaning that people develop and build upon in the process of social interaction. When considering non‐material culture, sociologists refer to several processes that a culture uses to shape its members' thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. "Freedom" is an idea that is very much a part of American culture, but you can't actually "touch" freedom.
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