• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Assess the usefulness of interactionist approaches to the study of society

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

´╗┐Assess the usefulness of interactionist approaches to the study of society. (33marks) Interactionism is an action approach, which focuses on the individual, and tries to understand and interpret human behaviour. They focus on the study of individuals, and how society is constructed by members? interactions and meanings. They also focus on how human action is meaningful and can be interpreted by an observer. Therefore they take an opposite approach to structural theories and believe individuals have the ability to create society through choice, meaning and action. Symbolic interactionism is concerned with explaining social actions in terms of the meanings that people give to them. Interactions are based on meanings we give to situations. We express these meanings through symbols, especially language. Meanings and symbols allow people to carry out human action and interactions. Language and communication deepens our capacity to become self-aware and aware of others. In addition to ?talking to others? we engage in talking to ourselves?, that is, engaging in internal conversations when we are making decisions. Mead (1863-1931) states that humans use symbols as a mean of interacting. Without these symbols there would be no human interaction and human society. ...read more.

Middle

E.g. a student labelled troublesome will be able to see himself in the eyes of the teacher. They will acknowledge that the teacher sees them as troublesome and that is the reason why they are treated harshly. Labelling theorists such as Becker demonstrate that some labels such as ?mentally ill? or ?underachiever? profoundly affect how individuals see themselves, how others perceive them and how they behave in the future. However, the labelling theory has been criticized, as it fails to explain where labels actually originate from. It has also been accused of determinism. The way we act and identify is shaped by the way people label us. It states we act according to labels and whatever people say about us becomes true. However this is not always the case. We don?t always have to accept these labels. We can reject them, or pretend to accept the label by acting according to the label that is given to us, and fooling those who gave us that label. Another criticism is that although it can explain the patterns of groups, such as the negative labelling of some groups in education, it does not explain the origins of labels and meanings in a wider setting of inequality. ...read more.

Conclusion

They tend to think all action is meaningful. Traditional action is performed unconsciously or routinely ? a habit, and has little meaning for actors. If it doesn?t ?mean anything? interactionism lacks the means to explain it; because they state everything has a meaning. The approach concerns itself with common-sense aspects of interaction. Although it can explain the patterns of groups, such as negative labelling of some groups in education, it does not explain the origins of labels and meanings in a wider setting of inequality. Overall, interactionism largely avoids determinism of structuralist theories such as functionalism. Although it can explain micro interpersonal disruptions, it does not account for macro conflicts such as wider patterns of class, gender, ethnicity, age and regional inequalities. Interactionists provide a useful insight into the workings of society but the theory is ideologically driven. Therefore, the theory is reductionist as it fails to take into account competing theoretical ideas. Postmodernists are critical of the interactionist meta-narrative as they claim to have a ?totalising?, (all encompassing), theory of society. Postmodernists maintain that rival narratives should be considered for a full account of social life. As a whole interactionism is regarded as a voluntaristic theory that emphasises on the freewill and choice we have in how we act. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Sociological Differentiation & Stratification section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Sociological Differentiation & Stratification essays

  1. Outline and evaluate the interactionist view of education (40 marks)

    Interactionists argue that labelling may well affect a pupils' self image and what sets they are placed in affecting the speed in which they are taught at. Labelling can even lead to anti school sub-cultures being created. When a child is represented with a label, if lasting long enough, the child can experience a self fulfilling prophecy.

  2. Assess the usefulness of structural approaches to our understanding of society.

    The Functionalist theory has several strengths in helping us understand society such as having a wider theoretical appeal. Its underlying ideas have been taken up by other structural perspectives and have generated new theories and research from the New Right.

  1. Identify current patterns of ill health and inequality in the UK. Explain probable ...

    The average amount of teenage pregnancies annually in the UK is 41.9 per 1,000 in 2007. The five areas with very high rates of pregnancy are Hartlepool, Hull, Salford; all within the North of England, Lambeth in Greater London and Great Yarmouth in the East of England.

  2. Demography topic revision notes. The study of populations and their characteristics is called ...

    These include the family, the dependency ratio, the public services and policies. The family Smaller families mean that women are more likely to be free to go out to work, thus creating the dual earner couple typical of many professional families.

  1. Outline and Assess Whether stratification is either inevitable or beneficial to individuals and society?

    The New Right and Functionalism view of stratification has been heavily criticized by people such as Gordon Marshall and Adam Swift. They say that capitalists societies are not as meritocratic as the new right claim. They argue that the free market doesn't offer everyone a fair chance at all, because

  2. Outline and Assess the Usefulness of Conflict Theories in Explaining Social Class Inequalities in ...

    Sociologists such as Bowles and Gintis stress the importance of this. They argue that the education system prepares working class students working class jobs. They are taught to be docile, submissive workers, ideal for the Capitalist system. Althusser agreed with this as he stated that one of the ways in

  1. Assess the usefulness of an Interactionists perspective on education.

    The micro scale research of the interactionist can sometimes ignore government policy, for example, the introduction of curriculum 2000 and funding. Greater funding would mean more teachers to fewer students and therefore a better learning environment for all, which is important to the Marxist and functionalists.

  2. What are the functionalist, conflict and symbolic interactionist theory of stratification?

    In other words it tries to justify the inequality in the stratified society. According to functionalist maybe it would be normal to see a rich minister and his poor driver in their level of living and saying each of them serves as an organ of the body works in harmony

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work