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Symbolic Interactionism as a Methodological Framework

  • Michael J. Carter
  • Andrea Montes Alvarado
Reference work entry

Abstract

Symbolic interactionism is theoretical perspective in sociology that addresses the manner in which society is generated and maintained through face-to-face, repeated, meaningful interactions among individuals. In this chapter, we discuss symbolic interactionism as a methodological framework. We first provide a brief summary of interactionist thought, describing the general tenets and propositions that have defined the perspective over time. Next, we discuss methods commonly employed by symbolic interactionists, noting how the interactionist perspective informs and guides sociologists in empirical research. We discuss how symbolic interactionists employ a wide variety of methods to understand both intra- and interpersonal processes, and how methodological approaches in symbolic interactionism vary in terms of their inductive or deductive style, idiographic or nomothetic causal explanation, and quantitative or qualitative research design. We address five main methods that are commonly used in symbolic interactionist studies: interviews, surveys, ethnographies, content analysis, and experiments. Future directions of the perspective are discussed.

Keywords

Symbolic interactionism Research methods Interviews Surveys Ethnography Content analysis Experiments 

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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sociology DepartmentCalifornia State University, NorthridgeNorthridgeUSA

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