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Symbolic Interaction and «Verstehen»


Horst Jürgen Helle

The approach of Symbolic Interaction (SI) which Herbert Blumer called «Symbolic Interactionism», is regarded as a modern version of the sociology of Verstehen, originally outlined by Georg Simmel and Max Weber. This book is divided into four chapters. In the first the relevant philosophical sources are indicated, particularly those relating to Georg Simmel. The second chapter examines the basic principles of Verstehen and the construction of ideal types. In the third chapter an account is given of the intellectual background of SI, with an introduction to the main proponents involved in its inception: Charles Horton Cooley, William Isaac Thomas, and George Herbert Mead. The fourth chapter discusses the writings of Herbert Blumer, Anselm Strauss, Tamotsu Shibutani and Erving Goffman. Transcriptions of tape recordings of important statements by Shibutani and by Goffman are included to assure authenticity on critical issues.
Contents: Philosophical sources are introduced relating to Simmel, and texts of the main proponents are discussed: Charles Horton Cooley – William Isaac Thomas – George Herbert Mead – Herbert Blumer – Anselm Strauss – Tamotsu Shibutani – Erving Goffman.