Alienation and Interaction: A Symbolic Interactionist Perspective

Monday, 11 July 2016: 11:00
Location: Seminar 34 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Tanya JUKKALA, The Stockholm Centre for Health and Social Change (SCOHOST), Sweden, Södertörn University, Sweden
In a general sense alienation can be understood in relation to the dual structure of human existence as individual and as social being, or as subject and as object, where the failure of achieving a synthesis between these two elements results in estrangement or alienation both from the self and the world. The symbolic interactionist tradition could be conceived of as addressing exactly this problem. An understanding of the structure of human existence as dual is central to the symbolic interactionist tradition as is articulated f ex in the idea of the ‘looking-glass self’ (Cooley) and in the dialectical relation between ‘I’ and ‘Me’ (Mead). Moreover, a synthesis of this duality can only be achieved in human interaction, in and through which the individual becomes a self, and which is inseparable from the individual as a self. The present paper explores the potential in the symbolic interactionist tradition for considering possibilities of overcoming alienation in human interaction, including the development of the self and human socialisation. Special attention is given to the social ethics embedded in the symbolic interactionist tradition, emphasising a sympathetic understanding of the other and personal growth through increased sympathy, in terms of being perhaps particularly relevant. An understanding of processes of alienation and possibilities of overcoming alienation in human interaction is indispensable for understanding alienation in the 21st century.