Session S50a (Tuesday, 9:30am, Thomas 201)

P464: Symbolic interactionism as a generic perspective

Jeffery Ulmer (Pennsylvania State University, USA)

Social sciences have increasingly adopted ideas that are at the heart of symbolic interactionism. Researchers in the interactionist tradition have made empirical contributions to a wide range of topics, and have engaged a broad range of fields. Interactionism is thus a generic perspective that is based on the philosophy of pragmatism. It is an overarching conceptual framework with five key features that shapes one’s approach to theorizing and research. Regarding research methods, many interactionists recognize the necessity of studying both outcomes and processes, and advocate a “principled catholicity” of methods. For interactionists, interpretive processes are essential to causal analysis, and these are best captured with qualitative data. However, quantitative data are useful for analyzing outcomes. I illustrate the empirical utility of symbolic interactionism by briefly describing a variety of research applications.

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