Underage Drinking Interactionism

1131 Words5 Pages
Kaitlin Seibold
Sociology 1113
Final Paper
1-8-2017
Underage Drinking and Symbolic Interactionism

Underage drinking in the United States has become a societal norm and plays a large role in teenage culture. You see it everywhere in pop culture and real life experiences. In high school it seems like every teenager around you is drinking at some point in your high school career. Reality TV shows and movies seem to shine a light on underage drinking and make it more prevalent in society. The peer pressure of underage drinking starts to intensify and then suddenly before you realize it you have become just like every other teenager in society. You learn right from wrong at a young age and you learn that underage drinking is on the side of what
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Teenagers realize the consequences yet they continue to participate in this social behavior. How does the social behavior of underage drinking relate to symbolic interactionism?
To understand what symbolic interactionism is you must first understand who founded the term and how they intended it to be used. George Herbert Mead and Herbert Blumer are both considered to be founders of symbolic interactionism. Mead is considered a founder of symbolic interactionism but he never published his work on the theory and Blumer was the one to determine what Mead meant by his work an in turn coin the term. Herbert Blumer was George Mead’s student. Blumer was born in 1900 and passed away in 1987. Blumer had three basic principles for symbolic interactionism:

1. Humans act toward things on the basis of the meanings they ascribe to those things.
2. The meaning of such things is derived from, or arises out of, the social interaction that one has with others and the society.
3. These meanings are handled in, and modified through, an interpretative process used by the person in dealing with the things he/she encounters (Blumer 1969). (OpenStax 2015)

Herbert Blumer is considered the person that developed symbolic interactionism into the theory that it is
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but it also occurs all the way across the pond in Europe. One example of Symbolic Interactionism and teen drinking is a crisis that has been happing in Europe with Danish teenagers around the age of 14 to 15. In the scholarly article by Demant and Järvinen about how alcohol is used for social recognition and to symbolize maturity by teenage drinking.
The function of alcohol in this struggle for recognition is so strong that the teenagers who drink very little or not at all are put under considerable pressure. With alcohol as the central marker of maturity – and the parents of the teenagers who drink are described as supporters of this view – teenagers who do not drink come out as potential losers in the status negotiations of the groups. (Demant and Järvinen 2006)
Demant and Järvinen show how the symbol of drinking a lot makes you “socially older” than teenagers that choose to drink less or not at all. “Symbolic interactionism is a micro-level theoretical framework and perspective in sociology that addresses how society is created and maintained through repeated interactions among individuals,” is how Carter and Fuller (2016) describe symbolic interactionism. It shows how the repeated interactions of teenager’s underage drinking forms a society where some are “socially older” and some are considered “losers.” That is how this study shows how Symbolic interactionism relates to underage

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