interactionism

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interactionism

In sociology, a theoretical perspective that derives social processes (such as conflict, cooperation, identity formation) from human interaction. It was Georg Simmel who first stated that “society is merely the name for a number of individuals connected by interaction.” In the U.S., John Dewey, Charles H. Cooley, and especially George Herbert Mead developed symbolic interactionism, the theory that mind and self are not part of the innate human equipment but arise through social interaction—i.e., communication with others using symbols. For symbolic interactionists, the individual is always engaged in socialization or the modification of one's mind, role, and behaviour through contact with others. Other theorists, such as Alfred Schutz, drew on phenomenology to extend interactionism, an effort that led to the creation of fields such as sociolinguistics and ethnomethodology, the study of people's sense-making activities. See also Erving Goffman.

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