(ii) the way people control one another’s behaviour

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(ii) George Homans (1961): It prefers to have an “exchange” approach. He stresses on the way people control one another’s behaviour by exchanging various forms of rewards and punishments for approved or disapproved behaviour. (iii) Harold Garflnkel (1967): Adopts what he calls an “ethno methodological approach.

This is only an attempt to find out how people themselves understand the routines of daily life. This approach focuses on how people view, describe, and explain shared meanings underlying everyday social life and social routines, (iv) Blumer and his Symbolic Interaction (1969): Blumer preferred to stress on the symbolic interaction approach laid down by G.H. Mead in the thirties. Symbolic interaction is the interaction that takes place between people through symbols – such as signs, gestures, shared rules, and most important, written and spoken language. Much of this interaction takes place on a face-to-face basis, but it can also occur in other forms. For example, symbolic interaction is taking place between the author of this book and the readers who read the sentences here.

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Interaction occurs whenever we obey [or even disobey] a traffic signal, or a “Stick no Bills” notice. The essential point is that people do not respond to that meaning. For example, the words or sentences of this book, the red light of a traffic signal have no meaning in themselves. People learn to attach symbolic meaning to these things, and they order their lives on the basis of these meanings. We live in a symbolic as well as in a physical world. Our social life involves a constant process of interpreting the meanings of our own acts and those of others. The interactionist perspective, in general, invites the sociologist to ask specific kinds of ques­tion: What kinds of interaction are taking place between people, how do they understand and inter­pret what is happening to them, and why do they act toward others as they do? Those who follow this perspective usually focus on the more minute, personal aspects of everyday life. For example, by what process an individual becomes a beggar or a prostitute or a criminal? How does someone learn to experience cigarette smoking as pleasurable? What tactics are used by a college lecturer to have class “control? What strategies are resorted to by a political leader to convince the angry mob about a political decision taken by his party on an issue that would affect their interests? What happens, and why, if we stand too close to someone during a conversation? And so on.

The interactionist perspective provides a very interesting insight into the basic mechanics of everyday life. It has the advantage of revealing fundamental social processes that other perspectives normally ignore. This perspective is also open to criticism. It neglects larger social institutions and societal processes, which have powerful effects on social interaction and on our personal experience.


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