19 Mar 2014

Socialized Self: Herbert Blumer's Three Basic Premises

(Herbert Blumer)
Herbert Blumer was a sociologist who discussed social research and symbolic interaction. As a supporter of George Herbert Mead's findings, Blumer was a big believer that individuals create their own social reality through collective and individual action. Through his works on symbolic interaction, Blumer was deemed by many as the leader of this sociological school of thought during his times.

Here is Blumer's Three Basic Premises for human interaction from his book, Symbolic Interactionism: Perspective and Method:

1) "Humans act toward things on the basis of the meanings they ascribe to those things."

An example of this would be a person who views climbing the corporate ladder and making it to the top as the key goal for life. Their views of people and things, and their ideologies are based on their goal. A person who wants only to reach the top of the ladder --to become a partner of a billion-dollar company-- may view power and loads of money as the most important aspect of their life. Additionally, they may view "free-spirited" people as lazy and detrimental to society.

The "free-spirited" person, on the other hand, probably views the world completely different. The free-spirit might have the belief that the corporate ladder is unhealthy for humans and that the idea of having fancy material possessions is harmful to society.

What a person believes or thinks about something is rooted in their meanings of it.



2) "The meaning of such things is derived from, or arises out of, the social interaction that one has with others and the society."

An example for this would be America's (or Western societies') consumer culture. People in said societies like to buy stuff (and a lot of it!). The reason why they want so much is that society is always cramming products and wonderful images of having these products down their throats. Product placements are spammed all over television shows and movies, and musicians sing about them often too. But if you were to travel to a third-world country, the things that are important to these individuals are bare necessities, such as food, water, shelter, medicine, education, and safety.

The main takeaway is meanings of things, whether it is a material thing or a belief, vary from society to society.

3) "These meanings are handled in, and modified through, an interpretative process used by the person in dealing with the things he/she encounters."

An example of this would be a person who is a non-conformist, such as a fiction writer or breakdancer. This person chose to go down the road less traveled as he decided to be an artist rather than an associate at a big corporation.

But when he is faced with tough questions about his decision by a friend, his mind ran through multiple questions and events (time constraints, how close they are, how well they know each other, how confident he is, etc.) that helped him arrive at an answer. This is interpretive analysis and everyone does it. And everybody's answer or decision will be unique, as it is rooted in their world and history.

Do agree with Blumer's Three Basic Premises? What about my interpretation of his work? Share your thoughts below.

If you want to learn more about Blumer, you can buy his collection of essays on symbolic interaction (Symbolic Interactionism: Perspective and Method), from Amazon here.

Just to be totally transparent with you, this article includes affiliate links. What this basically means is that if you decided to use the provided links to buy the product, I will get a small commission from your purchase, at no extra cost to you.

1 comment:

  1. Yes he did a lot for the mankind to learn and be socialized for others.

    ReplyDelete