Definition: Symbolic interaction is a sociological paradigm that claims that reality is socially constructed on the basis of interactions between individuals in society, which is based on symbols and interpretation. This is a micro-approach based on the practices of daily life (hence also called: Sociology of daily life ).
The intellectual roots of the approach are found in Georg simmel and to a lesser extent in Max Weber . Simmel, unlike contemporary sociologists, researched the sociology of everyday life. The plane of analysis was not the social structure, culture, social institutions, and so on, but "smaller" events, such as human interactions. He wrote, among other things, about the dyad (the interaction between two people), the triad (three people), about the feelings of the stranger, and more. Weber, too, influenced the theorists of the symbolic interaction approach, especially in his interpretive approach to social reality (as opposed to other classical sociologists who were positivists ).
The symbolic interaction approach developed at the University of Chicago in the early 20th century , culminating in the 1920s (also called the "Chicago School"). The main theorists of the approach were Robert Park , Charles Horton Cooley and George Herbert Mead . The Chicago School sank in the 1930s , but continued to exist in later years. The main theorist in those years, and the one who coined the term symbolic interaction , was Herbert Blumer . The last major theorist in this approach was Irving Goffman, Who developed the dramaturgical theory. Goffman greatly influenced the symbolic interaction approach and sociology in general, so that sometimes, when referring to the term "symbolic interaction," one refers to Goffman's dramaturgical theory.
In the 1960s and 1970s , theoretical approaches flourished that, along with symbolic interaction, dealt with the sociology of everyday life. Among them are phenomenology and ethnomethodology .