Symbolic Interactionism in Canada: Shared Meaning and the Perpetuation of Ideas

Monday, 16 July 2018: 15:42
Oral Presentation
Jacqueline LOW, Sociology, University New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, Canada
In this paper I discuss differing theoretical explanations of the status of symbolic interactionist theory in Canada. In particular I address Helmes-Hayes and Milne’s (2017) institutional perspective on the health of this theoretical tradition in Canada and Neil McLaughlin’s (2017) emphasis on scientific intellectual movements and Coserian intellectual sects in explaining the emergence of symbolic interactionism in Canada and its potential future. In doing so I also critique the claim that the perspective is on the verge of disappearing, consumed by its own subjectivist assumptions on the one hand and overwhelmed by a rising tide of postmodernist and stand point theory on the other. Instead I offer an explanation grounded in symbolic interactionist insights about shared meaning and how it shapes the activities of individuals. I conclude that it is ironic that debates over the presumed demise of symbolic interaction in Canada may well contribute to a renewed interest in the perspective, raising its profile among students and researchers and thus contributing to its continued existence within the canon of Canadian Sociology.