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Symbolic Interactionism, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 318

Essay

Briefly discuss the process of development of “self” from a sociological point of view. In particular, reflect on the views of Cooley, Mead, and Goffman.

Goffman’s point of view includes the use of ‘expressive equipment’ in the development of one’s self (Uregina.ca, 2009). His ideas stem from viewing the ‘self’ within the confines of a societal standard.  The performance is therefore influenced by an audience and the environment.

Charles Cooley’s “The Looking Glass Self” describes the self and society as being created at the exact same time (Ibid). There is an unbreakable connection between the self and society. Like Mead, Cooley believed that sociology should focus on social reality.

In Mead’s ‘The Social Self’, the origins of consciousness is described. The subtle and very gradual development comes through childhood and the various abilities that are learned (Ibid).

Define deviance. Then, discuss some of the sociological theories which try to explain deviance in society. Is there one which you find more completing than other theories? Why?

Deviance is best defined as a divergence from behavior that is deemed by society to be ‘normal’. There are several theories that attempt to define deviance from a sociological perspective. Edwin Sutherland’s differential-association theory explains how people adopt deviant behavior, learning it from the environment (UMSL.edu, 2007). Robert Merton’s Anomie Theory claims deviance is derived from a lack of normalcy or conflicts exist between societal norms. Walter Reckless’s Control Theory defines deviance as a conflict between inner and outer controls against deviant tendencies. Another theory is the labeling theory which considers the definition of deviance is derived from labels or actions or reactions from others. Overall, the most compelling of the theories is a combination of the Labeling Theory and the Differential-Association Theory. These both emphasize environmental influences on the construction of deviant behavior.

Reference

“Symbolic Interactionism”. (2009). Retrieved on November 18, 2010 from URegina.ca: http://uregina.ca/~gingrich/f100.htm

“Introduction to the Sociology of Deviance”. (2009). Retrieved on November 18, 2010 from UMSL.edu: http://www.umsl.edu/~keelr/200/intrdev.html

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