Charles Horton Cooley and the Symbolic Interactionism Theory

1303 Words Oct 26th, 2012 6 Pages
Charles Horton Cooley and the Symbolic Interactionism Theory

Should we associate the abandonment of ‘self’ with symbolic interactionism? Do you feel the need to ‘change your stripes’ to fit in with society? ‘An individual is an abstraction unknown to experience, and so likewise is society when regarded as something apart from individuals.... Society and individuals do not denote separable phenomena, but are simply collective and distributive aspects of the same thing…’ (Thomas Francis O 'Dea) In this aspect of his theory, Charles Horton Cooley, a symbolic interactionist, concluded that our sense of ’self’ develops from interactions with others. Cooley described this process as the looking -glass self. The looking- glass self
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The only problem with this idea is that it leaves the idea of originality to be an outcast on society. Being different from every one is a call for prejudice, harassment, and not being part of the societies typical norms. We should be able to see a person for their general or master accomplishments and their abilities…not if the society excepts them as an individual. The theory it self is an outline for and how to make someone an outcast. If a person comes along and is living in society and doesn’t bother too much about his appearance or materialistic things, is he/she an outcast. By Cooley’s theory he/she is an out cast because in his theory he states, ‘The imagination of our appearance to the other person, the imagination of his judgment of that appearance, and some sort of self-feeling, such as pride or mortification.’ (Coser) If this individual chooses to believe and go by what he wants and not what the society wants him to go by, he is shunned and considered an outcast, when in actuality society is the outcast for trying to be like every one else. Cooley also states that ‘If…we say that society is an organism, we mean…that it is a complex of forms of processes each of which is living and growing by interaction with the others, the whole being so unified that what takes place in one part affects all the rest. It is a vast tissue of reciprocal activity.’ (Coser) In this part of his theory I interpreted it as if we deny the chance for your individual to grow
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