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Abstract

Symbolic interactionism has changed over the past two decades, both in the issues that practitioners examine and in its position within the discipline. Once considered adherents of a marginal oppositional perspective, confronting the dominant positivist, quantitative approach of mainstream sociology, symbolic interactionists find now that many of their core concepts have been accepted. Simultaneously their core as an intellectual community has been weakened by the diversity of interests of those who self-identify with the perspective. I examine here four processes that led to these changes: fragmentation, expansion, incorporation, and adoption. I then describe the role of symbolic interactionism in three major debates confronting the discipline: the micro/macro debate, the structure/agency debate, and the social realist/interpretivist debate. I discuss six empirical arenas in which interactionists have made major research contributions: social coordination theory, the sociology of emotions, social constructionism, self and identity theory, macro-interactionism, and policy-relevant research. I conclude by speculating about the future role of interactionism.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.so.19.080193.000425
1993-08-01
2024-04-12
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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.so.19.080193.000425
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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