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  1. Wood Chapter 5 Lecture Theories About Symbolic Activity Wood Chapter 5

  2. Symbolic Interactionism • Mead regarded symbols as the foundation of both personal and social life (symbolic interactionism). Wood Chapter 5

  3.  Mind and self are acquired in the process of interacting with others. •  Mind is the ability to use symbols that have common social meanings. Wood Chapter 5

  4. Self • Self is the ability to reflect on ourselves from the perspective of others. • Looking glass self.  • Symbolic interactionists explain that we learn to see ourselves mirrored in others' eyes.  • Our perception of how others see us are lenses through which we perceive ourselves. Wood Chapter 5

  5. Self-fulfilling prophecy • is when individuals live up to the labels others impose on them. Wood Chapter 5

  6. Humans have the distinctive ability to be both the subjects and the objects of their experience. • I is impulsive, creative, spontaneous, and generally unburdened by social individuality and of criminal and immoral behavior. • ME is the socially conscious part of the self, who reflects on the I's impulses and actions. Wood Chapter 5

  7. Talk about it: Can you name examples of both your “I” and your “me”? • I is impulsive, creative, spontaneous, and generally unburdened by social individuality and of criminal and immoral behavior. • ME is the socially conscious part of the self, who reflects on the I's impulses and actions. Wood Chapter 5

  8. The ME is analytical, evaluative, and above all aware of social conventions, rules, and expectations. • Mead saw the I and the ME as complementary. • Symbolic interactionists claim that our meanings for things reflect the perspectives of both particular others and the generalized other.  • Individuals also use the perspective of the generalized other to decide what things mean. Wood Chapter 5

  9. HOW PEOPLE CREATE MEANING • People act on the basis of what things mean to them.  • Thus, meanings are the basis of behavior, including communication. • Symbolic interactionist claim that meanings are formed in the process of interacting symbolically with others in a society.  Wood Chapter 5

  10. Symbolic interactionists believe that the meanings individuals confer on experiences, feelings, events, activities, other people, and themselves reflect the internalized perspectives of particular others and the generalized other. Wood Chapter 5

  11. Symbolic interactionists believe that people act on the basis of what things mean to them AND that meanings are formed in the process of interacting symbolically with others in a society. • Blumer insists that individuals construct their action through a process of personal interpretation. Wood Chapter 5

  12. DRAMATISM - Burke • Life is a drama, which involves conflict and division that threatens some existing form of order. Wood Chapter 5

  13. IDENTIFICATION • All things have substance, which is the general nature or essence of a thing. • Consubstantiality is identification or empathy with each other.  • We can understand one another only because there is some overlap in individuals' substances (experiences, language, goals).  Wood Chapter 5

  14. Communication • Communication can't be perfect, because there are also differences and divisions that keep individuals from being completely consubstantial (empathetic). • Communication is the primary way that we increase our identification, or consubstantiality, with others and diminish our division, or separateness, from others. Wood Chapter 5

  15. GUILT • Guilt is the central motive for human action, specifically communication. • Any tension, discomfort, sense of shame, or other unpleasant feeling that humans experience is guilt.  • In Burke's judgment, we continuously feel guilt and are continually attempting to purge ourselves of the discomfort it causes. Wood Chapter 5

  16. HIERARCHY • Language allows us to create categories and evaluations that are the basis of social hierarchies, such as socioeconomic classes, title in organizations, and degrees of status and power. Wood Chapter 5

  17. PERFECTION • Our symbols allow us to conceive and name perfect forms or ideals that are at the top of the hierarchy:  A flawless relationship, a completely egalitarian society, your ideal weight, a perfect LSAT score, a world free of war. Wood Chapter 5

  18. THE NEGATIVE • The moral capacity to say "no," "not," and "thou shalt not."  Moral judgments. Wood Chapter 5

  19. Guilt • arises because of the gap between what is in the case (personal shortcomings, imperfections in relationships, social inequities) and the perfection that we can imagine. Wood Chapter 5

  20. PURGING GUILT • Purging guilt becomes the principal goal of communication. • First, we may engage in mortification, which is blaming ourselves. • Victimage is identifying an external source for some apparent failing or sin. • Victimage often takes the form of scapegoating, the placing of sins into a sacrificial vessel whose destruction serves to cleanse an individual or group of sin. Wood Chapter 5

  21. Talk about it • What do you think is the connection between guilt and communication? Wood Chapter 5

  22. THE DRAMATISTIC PENTAD (HEXAD) • ACT is what is done by a person. • SCENE is the context. • AGENT is the individual or group that performs an act. • AGENCY is the means an agent uses to accomplish an act (channel). • PURPOSE is the goal of the act. • ATTITUDE is how an actor positions herself or himself relative to others and the contexts in which she or he operates.  Added later, thus the hexad. Wood Chapter 5

  23. RATIO • RATIO is a proportion that shows the emphasis of an element in the pentad. Wood Chapter 5

  24. NARRATIVE THEORY Walter Fisher • "Humans are by nature storytelling beings and that the narrative capacity is what is most basic and most distinctive about humans.  According to Fisher, humans are storytelling animals.  Fisher (1987) believed that we make sense of our experiences in life by transforming them into stories, or narrative form. . . . Storytelling, in other words, is an ongoing human activity, one as natural and nearly as continuous breathing" (Wood, 2004, p. 105). Wood Chapter 5

  25. Tell us a story • What does the story tell about the story-teller? Wood Chapter 5

  26. "Humans are wonderfully creative and imaginative beings. . . .We are able to invent and accept new stories when they better explain our lives or offer better directions for future living than the stories we have grown up hearing and believing" (p. 113).  Wood Chapter 5

  27. Assumptions of the Narrative Paradigm Do you agree or disagree? • People are basically storytelling beings. • We make decisions and form beliefs on the basis of good reasons. • What we consider good reasons depends on history, culture, personal character, and biography. • Narrative rationality is evaluated by the coherence and fidelity of stories. • Life is a set of stories, in choosing to accept some stories and to reject others, we continuously re-create our lives and ourselves. Wood Chapter 5

  28. Or is this more like what you think? Assumptions of the Rational World Paradigm • People are basically rational beings. • We make decisions and form beliefs on the basis of arguments. • Arguments are determined by the nature of specific speaking situations. • Rationality is evaluated by the quality of knowledge and reasoning. • Life consists of logical relationships that can be discovered through rational logic and reasoning. Wood Chapter 5

  29. NARRATIVE RATIONALITY • Not all stories are equally compelling.  We judge stories on the basis of a distinctively narrative form of rationality, thought to be quite different from conventional criteria of rationality.  Wood Chapter 5

  30. NARRATIVE RATIONALITY The two standards for assessing narrative rationality are coherence and fidelity. • COHERENCE:  Do all parts of the story seem to fit together as believable? • FIDELITY:  The extent to which a story resonates with listeners' personal experiences and beliefs. Wood Chapter 5

  31. Talk about it • "Most of the major advances in social life have come about because people told new stories that contested popular views and established ideas about life" (Wood, 2004, p. 113). What do you think?!?! Wood Chapter 5

  32. Case 5 Thought and Reflection • How does Reece’s intrapersonal communication about her weight affect her self-esteem? What messages does she send herself repeatedly that affect her self-esteem? Where do these messages come from? Wood Chapter 5

  33. How does your communication with yourself and with others affect your identity? What role does communication play in shaping your identity? Wood Chapter 5

  34. Not all people feel the same pressure to be thin. How much pressure do you and your friends feel to be thin? Do you hear people talking about wanting to be thin and measuring themselves against impossible standards? What might account for some people feeling an intense amount of pressure and others not feeling any pressure? Wood Chapter 5

  35. In this case, Reece strongly wants to lose weight and expresses her willingness to "do whatever it takes" to be thin. Do you think her desire and her behavior are unhealthy? Does her friend Emma have a responsibility to say something to Reece about her behavior? What do you think Wood Chapter 5

  36. Emma should do to keep her friend from hurting herself? Wood Chapter 5

  37. What racial/ethnic differences in views toward weight can you see? • What might explain the racial/ethnic differences in views toward weight? Wood Chapter 5

  38. Wood, J. T.  (2004).  Communication theories in action: An introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. • Braithewaite, D. O., & Wood, J. T. (2000).  Case studies in interpersonal communication processes and problems.Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Wood Chapter 5