Symbolic interactionism is a sociological perspective derived from the phenomenological work of George Herbert Mead and Edmund Husserl which influences many areas of sociological discipline, including microsociology and social psychology, and is frequently applied in the criminological field both theoretically and experimentally. As a school of thought, symbolic interactionism studies the relationship between the state and its disseminating ideological structures, such as the media and conservative elite ruling class, and other groups further down in social and political hierarchies.
This perspective views society as a by-product of everyday individual social interactions, and states that individuals assign symbolic value or create meaningful associations based on their interactions with one another, creating learned behaviour and societal values which are nonetheless rooted in subjective belief. Throughout the study of crime and deviance, symbolic interactionist theory investigates how individuals in everyday situations define criminal enterprise between cultures and across historical domains and settings.
Within the realm of symbolic interactionism, an individual cannot be separated from society or societal influences or vice versa. This is due to the fact that both are established and their value systems assigned through social interaction, and as such one cannot be understood without association with the other. Symbolic interactionism views social behaviour as defined not by environmental forces or inner instinctual drives, but rather by reflective social considerations with regards to internal and external incentives presented in association with said behaviour.
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