Self, Identity, and Interaction in an Ecology of Identities

  • Lynn Smith-Lovin


Arguably, one of the most significant theoretical accomplishments of the 1960’s was Sheldon Stryker’s (1968, 1980) linking of symbolic interactionist ideas with mainstream sociological concerns about social structure. In a sense, Stryker rescued the study of symbolic interaction from a somewhat counterproductive fascination with idiosyncratic, creative, atypical behavioral productions in ill-defined, unconstraining behavioral settings. He reasserted the ability of the basic symbolic interactionist principle—that society shapes self which then shapes social behavior—to inform a powerful theoretical view of how social structure and the individuals that exist within it effect and constitute one another. Following role theory in concentrating on the stable, reoccurring interactions in our social system, Stryker once again made social psychology relevant to the mainstream concerns of our discipline. By linking the role patterns with the internalized meanings that roles had for individuals, he provided the connection between social structure, meaning and action that drives structural symbolic interaction today.


American Sociological Review Connectionist Model Symbolic Interaction Multiple Identity Social Entity 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lynn Smith-Lovin
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.University of ArizonaTucson
  2. 2.Duke UniversityDurham

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