Symbolic interactionism – my bedtime reading….

Oh, I’ve been a bit slack on the research blog front, although I have been doing quite a lot of work!  Lots of reading – mainly on symbolic interactionism.  Just trying to let it all absorb.  I find I understand concepts like this better if I read a lot, then reread and just give it time to sink in.  Been doing some mind maps as well to link the authors and ideas together.


These five are on the bedside table at the moment, plus I have a (virtual) stack of related books in ebook format on my iPad. Of course, Herbert Blumer’s book “Symbolic Interactionism: Perspective and Method” is a must read, along with George Herbert Mead’s “Mind, Self and Society”.  Blumer looks at meanings that humans make of things, and how that meaning arises out of the process of interaction between people.  I am finding that reading Joel Charon’s book “Symbolic Interactionism. An Introduction, An Interpretation, An Integration” is a big help in really consolidating ideas in my head.  His focus is on perspective, symbols and language and how those things interact to help us form what we call ‘reality’. (To put it simply!  Obviously these books are a lot more complex than that – these are just the little snippets I’m focusing on at the moment)

With Mead’s book, I am particularly interested in what he calls the ‘use of significant symbols’ and how that impacts on our notion of ‘self’. In the context of my research, I am looking at the ‘symbol’ of the white cane and how that can impact on the self image of people who are blind.  The other two references I am reading with this context in mind is Anselm Strauss’ “Mirrors & Masks. The Search for Identity” and Erving Goffman’s “Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity”.  I am thinking a lot of the differences between how sighted people perceive the white cane (often, but not always, seen as a symbol of pity and helplessness) compared to how a competent cane user sees the cane – as a tool for independence. I will be interested to see how the children I am going to interview perceive the cane, given that they began to use one at a very young age.

The other two books – “Interpretive Interactionism” by Norman Denzin and “Symbolic Interaction and Ethnographic Research: Intersubjectivity and the Study of Human Lived Experience” by Robert Prus – I enjoy reading because they help me to see how Symbolic Interactionism can be applied to ‘real life’. I have always enjoyed reading research which related back to the ‘lived experience’ and which includes the perspectives of ‘real’ people.  Which is probably why I’ve been drawn to qualitative research and to exploring Symbolic Interactionism as a research methodology for my field.

Ah, so much more to learn, so little time….. 🙂


4 thoughts on “Symbolic interactionism – my bedtime reading….

  1. vagabondforbeauty

    Bron, you mention Erving Goffman, and his Book “Frame Analysis…”: is really a masterpiece in my graduate studies in “History of world Humanities” and he looks at the LAYERS of the way humans construct reality: and all of it is related to human orientation, and how our senses construct our reality apart from others and including others…”” My brain book library is too large to mention, but Goffman was good, if not excellent, even though reading what he wrote is sometimes tedious…
    ~ Loren

  2. Nat Petrášová


    i’m from Slovakia (in Europe) and i need your help:) I read that you’ve got Symbolic interactionism: perspective and method by Blumer as ebook…and i really need it for my semestral essay…my mark depends on it…but i can’t find it in any library in our country or pdf or anything… so i’m begging you, if you could send it to me (via e-mail or some share page)….PLEASE CONTACT ME!!! my email is or skype: aithne32


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