On Symbolic Interactionism

I have since the late 1960’s been interested in the theory of symbolic interactionism. It is a very partial and limited theory but for many purposes it is actually one of the best we have. The Poetic for Paul   a few posts back has already introduced some key ideas.   You may also like to look at the work of The Society for  Study of Symbolic Interactionism.

THe Society for the Study of Symbolic IInteraction



Ken Plummer (Essex University)

Published in:
Andrea Salvini, Joseph A. Kotarba, Bryce Merrill eds

The Present and Future of Symbolic Interactinism Vol 1: Pisa, Italy: FrancoAngeli : p22 -30

The world is always different. Each morning we open our eyes to a different universe. Our intelligence is occupied with continued adjustments to these differences. That is what makes the interest in life. We are advancing constantly into a new universe….George Herbert Mead

The Real Thing is Human Life.
Damn great Empires! Including that of the Absolute.
Give me individuals and their spheres of activity.
The real world is the experience of actual men and women,
and not abbreviated and shorthand descriptions of it.
Incorrigibly plural.
We live in the minds of others, without knowing it.
Society can be grasped only in the imagination.
An essence of society is unascertainable.
And a thousand different futures might have stemmed
from every single moment of my past.
Some modest generalisation of the social forms may be possible.

(an extract from  A Poetic for Paul: Plummer, 2009).

Born in the U.S.A.
Symbolic Interactionism was born in the USA. Its history and development has primarily been in North America where a distinctive philosophical, sociological and social psychological theory has been fostered which is closely linked to  the American Philosophy of pragmatism It is not hard to provide quick and ready evidence for this. The recent Handbook of Symbolic Interactionism (Reynolds  & Herman-Kinney, 2003) has some 60 contributions of which 55 are from the USA and five are from Canada.  No author came from outside this continent. I have also briefly surveyed its key journals to discover that they have been almost wholly edited by, and written by, Americans.  SI has been institutionalised in the USA through the ‘triple S I’ (the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interactionism which was formed around 1976  (SSSI)), but this has had only a few non US members. It holds it conferences primarily in the USA and again is populated overwhelmingly by Americans. And although it has at least awarded four sets of  ‘honours’ since 1978 not one of these has ever gone to anyone outside of North America (For details look at its web site). A history of interactionism by Norman Denzin which outlines six eras does not mention anyone outside of the U.S.A. (Denzin: 1992:p 9). To repeat: symbolic interactionism is a North American Sociological Theory – with all the attendant global issues this raises.

Some will not agree. Of course I am not claiming that we cannot find traces of SI around the world. Canada is North America and there is really a very strong tradition there ( including a long standing, annual qualitative research conference associated with it). It seems there is also a, until now, largely hidden) world of S.I. in Italy .We can also find pockets in France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. (It’s pragmatic roots  has indisputably had an impact on Germany in the works of Jurgen Habermas, Hans Joas and Axel Honneth (Bernstein, 2010)). The odd article from outside the U.S. will get into the journals. Sometimes a conference will be held abroad – notably in Nottingham in the UK in the mid 1990’s and now here in Pisa in 2010. But even so, the theory does not seem to have travelled much beyond the Euro-American borders.  I hear little  of Asian, African or Muslim interactionists. (Tamotsu Shibutani (1920-2004), for example, was a first generation Japanese American).   My own land is the U.K. where I have been an interactionist for some 40 years. Yet I have rarely met self defined S.I. promoters. Even the key figures – like Paul Rock, Paul Atkinson or Robert Dingwall – do not usually make a great deal of fuss about being interactionists.  I am a fully committed  S.I. person myself – but choose to pass under the more general term ‘critical humanist’.  That said, Paul Atkinson & William Housley have located much of UK sociology as a version of ‘unaware interactionists – ‘ we are all interactionists now” (even if we do not know it!) they claim.  This may be true: the subtle and tacit if unacknowledged influence of interactionism has been quite widespread, but few sociologists claim to use it directly (I know a good few closet interactionists). But these are not part of any considered programme and histories of UK sociology give it no mention (the standard –if orthodox and misleading- history by A.H. Halsey does not mention it in in the index [Halsey, 2004]).

I say all this because my task in this short introduction is to ponder a little how this very American theory could or should travel more widely around the world. I want to consider whether in the twenty first century it is time for symbolic interactionism to go global.

The Global Challenge

Does the rest of the world need symbolic interactionism? In the twenty first century, the challenge is on to ask how we might connect this predominantly North American tradition to the wider global and globalizing world?  Is it time – in this globalizing, mediated, network twenty first century – to bring interactionism into an international and global framework ? And a key issue is whether we could do this without making it a simple copy of US ideas. My view is that a process of globalization may well help to enrich interactionist ideas themselves. Thus I am not arguing for a simple one- way imperialist or colonial interactionism where the U.S. shows everyone the way. Quite the opposite: I see this as a time where we should take up the challenge to link the theory to different national ideas and turn it into a truly cosmopolitan theory of global humanity; one that makes a (necessarily partial and limited ) sense of how we live and breathe in the world.  This means we should start to think interactionism critically. One of our questions should be: Does the rest of the world really need symbolic interactionism?  Is the theory really a universal one that can – and should – travel well? Or is it really a theory that is too limited and culture specific (many have claimed this in the past: that it is the theory of American individualism). Ultimately, then, this is part of a much wider project –  the search for an account of social life which will help ‘reconfigure knowledge on a world scale’( Connell, 227). But before we can do this we need to have a firm sense of what interactionism itself is all about.

Just what is this thing called Symbolic Interactionism?

Before we can take on this challenge, we need to locate exactly what the theory means – and this is not easy.  As I have said elsewhere:

If the world is as the interactionists depict it, then we can assume that (1) there is no one fixed meaning of symbolic interactionism; (2) that “accounts” of its nature and origins will change over time, and indeed be open to renegotiation; and (3) that what it “means” will indeed depend upon the definitions of the significant others whose interaction constitutes its meaning. Thus the very origins and history of the theory are themselves a contested domain.  Plummer, 1996: 225  

Despite this, let me try and give a sense of what most might agree on. Symbolic Interactionism is a thoroughly humanistic theory grounded in radical empiricism, pragmatism, formalism, and (maybe) post modernism.  The traditions of symbolic interactionism are long, and not without schisms and controversies. They can indeed be seen to seep back to the Stoical and Aristotelian philosophical traditions of the ancients.  Some of its ideas may even be traced back to Confucius or even Buddhism. No idea is an island. Nevertheless, in more recent times it has undoubtedly been born again as North American Social Theory.  The ideas have been developed in the philosophies and pragmatism of William James, John Dewey, Charles  S. Peirce, George Herbert Mead; in the poetics of Emerson, Thoreau and Whitman; in the more formal theorising of  Georg Simmel, Charles H. Cooley and others;  and developed in the down to earth field work of  sociologists and reformers like Robert Park, W.I.Thomas and Jane Adams.

Despite all this, it was Herbert Blumer who coined the rather ugly neologism symbolic interactionism in an offhand way in 1937 (and unfortunately it has stuck: I have long thought the theory deserved a better name). (Blumer, 1937). Sociologically, it has been classically developed in the works of Everett Hughes, Robert Park, Howard S Becker, and Anselm Strauss- all members of what has come to be called the neo-Chicagoeans (Fine, 1995).  More recently, it is to be found in the works of Norman K. Denzin, Arthur Frank and a younger generation of radical, critical interactionists who want to make it much more explicitly political and ethical. It has also undergone a philosophical renewal in the work of Kenneth Burke, Richard Rorty, Richard Bernstein, Nelson Goodman and others. And there are many affinities with cultural anthropology, cultural historians, humanistic social psychologies, and (some) postmodern and cultural theorists. Broadly, the theory directs attention away from matters abstract to a concern with the empirically grounded world; it shuns grand abstractions and absolute truths for  down to earth descriptions and fragile, situated knowledge ; its politics directs us to a passionate practical concern with a dialogical and democratic world- just, caring and flourishing for all.  I have taken to calling my own version of all this ‘critical humanism’ (Denzin, 1992; Fine, 1993; Prus, 1997; Maines, 2001; Reynolds and Herman, 2003; Plummer, 2000; 2001).

Here I can only lightly sketch a few core themes, four –maybe five, or more – broad directives for thinking and researching with interactionism. The first tells us to examine the multiplicities of meanings in a material or obdurate world.  It leads us to investigate culture and discourse, symbols and language, narratives and stories, scripts and identities. It favours neither idealism nor materialism but sees meaning as ambiguous and emerging constantly in human interactions.   A second directive asks questions about the interactions of self and others – how the presence of others creates our sense of being human. The most basic concept of symbolic interactionism has long been the self, which  ­implies that the idea of “the other” is always present in a life: we can never be alone with a “self.” (Wiley, 1994). But along with this comes a flow of otherness and inter-subjectivity: of recognition and (maybe) respect; of dialogue and reflexivity;  of empathy  and sympathy, and maybe even reciprocity, compassion and generosity. At root, interactionism is concerned with  (in Howard Becker’s fine phrase) “how people do things together”. (Becker, 1986).  A third directive is to see social life as dwelling in time: emergent, processual, a flow in perpetual motion, social worlds of continual permutations of action (Strauss, 1993). Social life is a constantly changing and adapting process – always on the move: contingent, changing, emergent, habitual and ultimately entropic.  Fourthly, the theory demands that we get close to the living & breathing experiences of actual people. Interactionists are not interested in (the now voluminous and never ending) abstracted theories & philosophies of the world per se: their concern is with the pragmatic grounding of ideas and social life in ever changing contexts. The exploration and inspection of empirical worlds is their challenge. Human social life is always existential, experiental and grounded. As Blumer says:

Symbolic interactionism is a down‑to‑earth approach to the scientific study of human group life and human conduct. Its empirical world is the natural world of such group life and conduct. It lodges its problems in this natural world, conducts its studies in it, and derives its interpretations from such naturalistic studies. (Blumer (1969: 47))

A final key feature – which I acknowledge some may find more controversial – is my view that good interactionist work will always acknowledge that human knowledge cannot be fixed or impartial, but is always locatable within pragmatic and political tensions: grounded in practical social life itself. The need is always to develop an empathetic and democratic grasping of the social life, one that allows us to get close to experience and inspect the full range of stories and moral implications of ‘how to live a life’. Here we neccsarily have to bridge our academic work reflexivity to our politics and ethics.

There are many other features which others stress for interactionism. For example, I would always highlight the importance of multiplicities, of power and the body, of its links to history and wider social organization ( earlier critiques of the theory that have now been well addressed and incorporated into some of the US theory)  as key features. But not all would agree.

A Puralistic  World: Diversities of Interactionism

Disagreements and variety are common to all intellectual pursuits (as in all social life); Symbolic Interactionism is no different.  The theory can be seen now to have at least four generations of schismatic tensions (Denzin (1992) has charted six).  We could rather simply sense quite a lot of diversity of positions within a very broad interactionism and Table 1 flags some of the key ideas. Various broad stances can been outlined. First there may be some purists who worship at the shrine of Dewey, Mead and James and seek a kind of loyalty and essential truth within pragmatism that I am sure these philosophers would never ever have wanted. I think there are very few of these, and they would surely be a contradiction in terms (Call them, if you like, Interactionist fundamentalist absolutists, but I can’t name any!). Such abstract sureness is it seems to me against the spirit of tentative and fragile knowledge that most interactionists perceive.  More interestingly, David Maines has suggested a three fold grouping which I will somewhat modify here (Maines,2001: p16).  One group would be interactionist promoters. These are self styled core club members: people who join the SSSI, run the journals and the conferences  while promoting the theory. From the past this probably would include Herbert Blumer, Anselm Strauss, Carl Couch & Gregory Stone; from the present it probably includes David R. Maines himself, and various Presidents of the SSSI such as Cathy Charmaz, Carl Couch and Gary Alan Fine. Another group are  the interactionist utilisers  – people who borrow from it, usually knowingly, but do not easily call themselves interactionists. I have modified Maines sense of this to include quite a few big names – Erving Goffman, Howard S. Becker or Arlie Hochschild, for example, because they do not simply identify with interactionism , but use the theory in their own unique way. They find it useful for research and analysis, but do not call them straightforwardly ‘symbolic interactionists’  and would have doubts about subscribing to the club of  SI . Finally, Maines talks about unaware interactionists. This is an interesting group who use many versions of SI ideas, but never remotely acknowledge this. There has been for example a massive resurgent interest in theories of the self and identity over the past two decades, but very few have paid any attention to SI or to Mead and Cooley. There are a few in the first two groups around the world; but in the main across world sociology and social science, it is the last group that is largest and most significant.

To these I would now like add what we might call interactionist trangressors.  These have grown out of  classical SI or its classical pragmatic roots, but stay loyal to the practical commitment to the world as a constantly modifiying and adapting world: they keep adjusting and modifying their own vision to be a part of the continuously changing world. In so doing, they clearly want to move way beyond earlier formulations and may even see its roots as simultaneously fundamental yet somewhat limiting.  The work of Norman Denzin and the cluster that often work in association with him (as evidenced in the range of contributors to the Handbook of Qualitative Research through various editions, and his editing of the Annual Studies in Symbolic Interaction for over thirty years and which has regularly ‘pushed the boundaries’) would be a prime example of this. Often, it is much more innovative and much more overtly politically aware and active. Denzin and Lincoln have put it quite bluntly

The social sciences are normative disciplines, always already embedded in issues of value, ideology, power, desire, sexism, racism, domination, repression and control. We want a social science that is committed up front to issues of social justice, equity, non violence and peace, and universal human rights. We do not want a social science that says it can address these issues if it wants to. For us, that is no longer an option.      Norman Denzin and Yvonne Lincoln: Handbook of Qualitative Research, 3rd edition, 2005: page 13


Aristotelian Simmel and formalism Narrative theory Verstehen
Anarchist Grounded theory Romanticism Pirandello and drama
Phenomenology Ethnography Cultural Studies Everyday life
Existentialism Dramaturgy Communication studies Micro sociology
Pragmatism Accounts , absurd and Vocabularies of Motive Stoicism Sociological social psychology
Formalism Weber Neo-Pragmatism/Rorty Embodiment
Humanism Action theories Humanistic Negotiated order theory
Self Ethnomethodology Qualitative Iowa School & TST
Identity Conversational Analysis Social constructionism Textual theories
Postmodernism/post-structuralism Neo-Iowa ANT (Actor network theory)

Towards a 21st Century Cosmopolitan Interactionism?

 In these remarks, my prime goal is to suggest that a timely and important debate for interactionists to be having right now is one that focuses on just how universally valid our theory of human social life is?  Although the theory has been most significantly developed and institutionalised in North America, it can be found in other countries and it seems currently to be attracting quite a lot of interest in Europe and the Scandinavian countries. My question is: Can it travel the world? The puzzle is whether the theory itself is actually reflective of a particular kind of society and social life at a particular time or whether it is capable of being seen as universally applicable. For example we have to ask: are selves universal (in the James-Cooley-Meadian sense)? My hunch is that many of our concerns are not just to be found in the USA, or the specific societies of the west but are also to be found in all other societies. But this is both a major empirical and a conceptual question – and one that requires research and scholarly endeavor on a world wide scale. It may be time for us to do this.

Now it is obviously not my aim to perform such a huge task here! Instead, let me suggest a few starting points for a mini research agenda.  First, we need to grasp the much wider problem of  universals in the social sciences. This has been a long standing debate and many have suggested there are universals, including universal values (cf Brown,1991)To put it bluntly: are Meadian ‘selves’ universal? Do people ‘live in the mind of others’ – as Cooley suggests-  everywhere? Are we Goffmanian role players across cultures? Do all societies have to orchestrate Straussian negotiated orders everywhere? Is it true that all societies are dialogic & reflective? Is ‘the arrow of time’ at work a universal – along with emergence, contingency and entropy? How does social memory take a shape across the world? Should we study human social life through a grounded intimate familiarity with it?  The list could go on.  Philosophers often have also confronted these problems and I have found the work of Martha Nussbaum on human capabilities to be a very valuable entry point – many of her capabilities seem to me to be very congruent with interactionist ideas. Likewise, the ideas of Habermas, Benhabib, Lukes, and many others feed well into ideas of universalism.  Here we seek a reconciliation of universal features of symbolic interaction with a cultural pluralism; a recognition of differences and connection without taking an extreme relativist position which would make comparative analysis and universal argument impossible.

Second, we need to recognise  the problem of  ‘national  and international standpoints’ . We know that different cultures have different ways of doing their academic business and producing their knowledge; often these become major differences between countries.  Indeed, symbolic interactionist theory itself predicts that knowledge is socially situated, bound into ever emerging social worlds – and so this reflexive idea needs to developed. Here the work of Sandra Harding (1998) and others could provide good leads here.  We can take the opportunity to locate interactionism on the borderlands of mainstream epistemologies, and seek out a range of voices. The idea of intersectionalities  (including class, race,gender, age, sexualities and disabilities across nations)can be incorporated here. Any one nation does not have one unified voice but a multiplicity and hence an emergent international interactionism will be attendant to these different voices.

 A third concern lies with the problem of globalization itself. This idea has become one of the most discussed and debated theories within the social sciences over the past quarter of a century and is also, rightly, viewed with critical suspicion by many. It means many different things to many different scholars and works for many different political stances.  But I think for our purposes we might be able to agree that there has been some accelerating flow of ideas across the world, and that as these ideas move around so they are being modified and reworked in different ways. Intellectual ideas – all ideas- get modified through local cultures.   Here we  might borrow from Roland Roberston (1992)  and analyse the glocalisation of ideas , and in this case the glocalisation of symbolic interactionism. How might the US based theory of SI arrive in local intellectual cultures  (of Italian, German, Muslim and the rest), and become modified in the process by this local culture. Borrowing from Jan Nederveen Pieterse, we can as how might this lead to a fruitful  hybridization of interactionism . Hybridity brings a theory that is more open and, in the spirit of much interactionism itself, is able to live with ‘fuzziness and mélange, cut’n’mix, crisscross and crossover” ( p72) and which does not feel the need to tidy up and unify every thing in its wake.

 Finally, bringing all this together, we need to turn SI into a truly cosmopolitan theory that fruitfully enables us to dialogue across our similarities and differences. Cosmopolitanism has a very long history – highlighting the need to be ‘citizens of the cosmos’, always highlighting differences connecting with universal sharedness, of how the ‘universal walks with a concern for the particular (Appiah, 2006: pxv).  Recently, we can find a massive amount of social science writing that has depicted over thirty varieties of cosmopolitanism (Horton, 2009), and highlighted the complexities of the term. Ulrich Beck (2006) has spoken of a cosmopolitan outlook and Gerard Delanty of a cosmopolitan imagination (2009). We are not talking about one or two countries here but a way of reaching out across many different histories, politics, cultures and meanings across the world (see Table 2) and encouraging them to speak to each other, respecting differences and yet finding common threads within interactionist ideas that seem to be global and make sense of all human lives.

2. Cosmopolitan Symbolic Interactionism: An Empty Matrix. Here are the blanks to fill in……

Continent Who are the SI folk on the big map in:
ASIA e.g. India, China, S.E.Asia etc
LATIN /MESO AMERICAS e.g Brazil, Mexico etc
AFRICAS e.g South Africa, Nigeria
EUROPE UK, Italy. France, Germany, Spain, Netherlands., Nordic, Eastern Europe etc
MUSLIM CULTURES e.g. Iran, Pakistan
AUSTRALASIA Eg New Zealand, Australia


Moving Ahead

There are many pathways ahead for symbolic interactionism – whatever names it may pass under. I believe its theory of human social life –symbolic, reflexive, grounded, processual and political – is too compelling account of how we humans live in this universe to be ignored. In this talk, I have suggested just one way forward in the twenty first century- of making symbolic interactionism a much more global and cosmopolitan theory in the international world.

There are many models for doing this. One recent success has been the way in which Michael Buraway’s notion of Public Sociology has rapidly moved through sociology in many countries around the world. One of his aims has been to’  “provincialize” US sociology, that is to compel recognition of its place in a global division of labor”. He has done this by trying to stimulate a global debate that is beyond that of California or the U.S. Buraway has claimed (in the Italian Version of his work) that the debate has now spread to China, Hong Kong, Portugal, South Africa, Australia, Ireland, India, France, Germany, England, Finland, Hungary, Russia, Brazil, and Spain, and of course Italy. He cites the links to Mosca, Pareto and to Gramsci himself (Burawoy, 1995: and see his personal website for international versions).

More locally, in a telling analysis of international interactionists, Phillip Vannini  (2008) has outlined nine proposals for making SI more ‘cosmopolitan’. These include such things as translating and taking seriously SI literature published in countries outside the USA; increasing the visibility of SI on the global & international scene; and building an International Center for the Study of Symbolic Interaction (initially Internet- based) (presumably outside of the USA!).  There are many pathways ahead. My own favourite future task would be the very simple one of building up an international on-line resource of about, say, fifty key interactionist concepts – which are then put through a serious and critically analytic process into many non-English languages of the world. Just what debates does the idea of  ‘the (Meadian) self’ pose for Arabic, Chinese or Russian? If we worked through just fifty key words slowly, carefully and meticulously and document the problems and new sources it might lead to, and established a solid global internet home for them, a cautious but lasting global path ahead may be established.

Interactionists above all others should know the significance of role taking and empathy in human life.  Mead not only recognized this in the most local and everyday situations but also grasped its significance for international human relationships.  He saw the possibility of a cosmopolitan self  in the future (Aboulafia, 2006). Let me, therefore, conclude with Mead:

We all belong to small cliques and we may remain simply inside them. The ‘organized other’ present in ourselves is then a community of narrow diameter. We are struggling now to get a certain amount of international-mindedness. We are realizing ourselves as members of a larger community. The vivid nationalism of the present should in the end call out an international attitude of a larger community….What I am emphasizing now is that the organization of these responses makes the community possible” : George Herbert Mead, Mind Self and Society: 1934: 265-6


Aboulafia, Mitchell (2006) The Cosmopolitan Self: George Herbert Mead and Continental Philosophy.  Illinois: University of Illinois Press

Appiah, Kwame Anthony (2006) Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. London: Allen Lane

Atkinson, Paul & Housely. William (2003) Interactionism: Sage

Beck, Ulrich   (2006) Cosmopolitan Vision  Cambridge Polity

Bernstein, Richard J. (2010) The Pragmatic Turn. Cambridge:Polity

Benhabib,  Seyla ( 2002) The Claims of Culture: Equality and Diversity in the Global Era Princeton: Princeton University Press

Blumer, Herbert (1937)’ Social Psychology’ in Man and Society, ed Emerson. P Schmidt. NY Prentice Hall

—————– (1969) Symbolic Interactionism: Perspective and Method. Englewoood Cliffs, New Jersey.

Brown,  Donald E.  (1991) Human Universals. NY McGraw-Hill

Burawoy, Michael (2005) ‘For Public Sociology’  American Sociological Review. Vol 70 p4-28

Collins, Randall ( 1998) The Sociology of Philosophies, Harvard

Connell, Raewyn (2007) Southern Theory. Polity.

Delanty, Gerard (2009) The Cosmopolitan Imagination: The Renewal of Social Theory

Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press

Denzin, Norman  (1992) Symbolic Interactionism and Cultural Studies: The Politics of Interpretation, Blackwell

————- The Qualitative Manifesto: A Call to Arms  California: Walnut Greek

Denzin, Norman  and Lincoln, Yvonna  2011  4th edition  Handbook of Qualitative  Research.  Sage

Fine, Gary Alan (1975) A Second Chicago School: The Development of a Post War American Sociology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Halsey, A.H. (2004) A History of Sociology in Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Harding, Sandra  (1998) Is Science Multicutural?  Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Holton, R (2010)  Cosmopolitanisms: New Thinking and New Dircetions Basingstoke: Palgrave

Lukes, Steven  (2008) Moral Relatiivism London: Profile Books

Maines, David ( 2001) The Faultline of Consciousness: a view of interactionism in sociology. Aldine

Mead, George H. (1934) Mind, Self and Society: form the standpoint of a social behaviorist. Chicago: University of Chicago Press (edited by Charles W. Norris).

Nussbaum, Martha (2011) Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach. Harvard: Harvard University Press

Pieterse, Jan Nederveen (2004) Globalization and Culture. Mayland: Rowman & Littlefield.

Plummer, Ken (1996; 2nd ed 2000)  ‘Symbolic Interactionism in the Twentieth Century’ in B.Turner ed.  The Blackwell Companion to Social Theory. Oxford : Blackwell

Plummer, Ken (1991) ed Symbolic Interactionism: Volume 1 and 2. Aldershot: Edward Elgar

Prus, Robert (1997) Subcultural Mosaics and Intersubjective Realities. New York: SUNY Press

Reynolds, Larry  & Herman-Kinney, N eds (2003) Handbook of Symbolic Interactionism  Walnut Creek, CA: Alta Mira

Robertson, Roland (1992) Globalization: Social Theory and Global Cukture. London: Sage

Urry, John  (2000) Sociology Beyond Societies: Mobilities for the twenty first century. Routledge.

Vannini, Phillip  (2008)  ‘The Geography of Disciplinary Amnesia: Eleven Scholars Reflect on the International State of symbolic Interactionism’   Studies in SI    Vol 32  p5-18




1. To locate / create a core listing of (between 50-100) key concepts used within symbolic interactionism that might be capable of having universal – certainly cross cultural –relevance. These will then become the basis of a core resource.

2. To write Wikipedia (or Wikipedia styled) entries for each of these concepts in english. Ideally, each term would have examples and connected relevant reference sources. They would be accessible to all and non copyrighted. We would encourage a wide team of contributors to write first drafts. At an early stage we would need to produce a basic style sheet.
3. To make these ‘entries’ into a universal form which are then open to ‘free translations’ into as many language groups that are interested.

4. Starting Tasks include:

a)     Establishing word list

b)     Setting format and style sheets

c)     Writing work

d)     Web formatting and site development

e)     Translations

f)     Public accessiblity

About kenplummer

For over 40 years I worried about things sociological; now I have time to stand and stare.

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