A Doll’s House. Notes On Act 1 Analysis Free Sample

Torvald calls Nora several pet names. What do these names suggest about Torvalds perception of his wife and Marriage? Songbird, Squirrelkin, Featherbrains

All these pet names suggest that Torvald does not see him and Nora as equals. He seems to think that he has the higher status and control/power in this marriage and that Nora has to obey him; she is treated more like a child than a wife, showing that he believes that her role is to amuse and delight him instead of being a wife. Before calling her these pet names he starts with the phrase “My Little…” This shows that he sees Nora as a child, so he is able to play with her mind.

Compare Nora’s & Kristines lives since marriage. Who’s better off? Nora has a family in which she seems quite fond off and a husband that is overall affectionate to her. Kristine married her husband on the sole basis of providing for her younger brothers and sick mother. In Act 1 we see that Kristine feels like she has nothing to live for or work for anymore because she has no kids, she’s too old to work and her families being deceased. Kristine is completely able to function as a single entity without any help from her husband or family members whereas Nora has to beg her husband for money every day because that’s her only source of income.

Therefore, I think that Kristine is better off due to the fact that she is more independent and responsible, compared to Nora who wouldn’t be able to take care of herself without Torvald being there. Nora’s life is better in a general sense, but Kristines is better in terms of accomplishments.

What might be the link between Nora’s “Contraband” macaroons and her “huge desire to say – to hell and be damned?” Both the macaroons and Nora’s desire to say “to hell and be damned” indicate that whether she even realizes it at this point, she is tired of being controlled and over-powered by Torvald.

What crime has Nora committed?

Forgery

Do Nora’s motives for committing the crime excuse her in some way? Not at all, because at the end of the day Nora is guilty of committing forgery which no matter the scenario is a crime. So there for her motives for committing forgery does not excuse her in any shape or form.

What does Nora’s tree decorating and chattering at the end of act 1 reveal about her character? Nora is upset by Torvald’s assessment of Krogstad’s character. Her chattering reveals that she is worried that her crime has rendered her unable to raise her children without poisoning their character with her bad choices.

East Or West Home Is The Best

“East or West, home is best”. This proverb is one of the most common sayings that people often use to talk about their hometown with pride. It refers to the importance and value of home in one’s life. However, I just partly agree with it, home can be best but can be worst. According to Cambridge Dictionary, home is understood as “the house, apartment, etc. where you live, especially with your family”. In terms of this definition, the feeling of one person toward their home will be the feeling that he or she has with family or cohabitants. However, it would be not true if we consider that the home experience stick with the affection between family members. In reality, many people do not have a full and happy family, for instance with the situation of children live in orphanage, most of them do not have parents or relatives.

If we consider home as a place you live with your family, it means that those people would never experienced the feeling of being home. With people who have unhappy family, home may be the worst place in the world because it refers to the sad memories that have happened before in the past. In fact, there are many people can find love and the feeling of belonging to a strange place without relatives. In the second common understanding, home is defined as the place that can bring the sense of security and affection. It means that home is anywhere that can make you feel comfortable, safe and attached to. It is not necessary your place of birth or where your family live. Referring to the example above, orphans can still find the affection, which is the unconditional love or care from other children and from foster mothers. They can consider the orphanage as their home though they do not have any kind of flesh-and-blood relationship with people here. Therefore, home can be the best place in the world, depending on how you consider a home is.

Symbolic Interactionism Short Summary

Symbolic interactionism, which originated with George Herbert Mead and Charles Horton Cooley, was a theory that aimed to solve complex social problems. Mead, in particular, was known for his influence on symbolic interactionism, to the point where other sociologists considered him the true founder of this tradition. Despite teaching in a philosophy department, Mead’s impact on sociology was substantial as he trained some of the brightest minds in the field. Surprisingly, Mead never formally published his extensive ideas, but after his death in 1931, his students compiled their class notes and conversations with him to create Mind, Self and Society. Although many wrongly attribute John Dewey as the leader of symbolic interactionism, The Handbook of Symbolic Interactionism asserts that Mead was the one who elevated the theory’s inner structure to a higher level of theoretical complexity.

Herbert Blumer, a student and interpreter of Mead, coined the term and presented an influential summary of the perspective: individuals act towards things based on the meaning those things hold for them; and these meanings are derived from social interaction and altered through interpretation. Blumer, a social constructionist, was influenced by Dewey, making this theory very rooted in phenomenology. He believed that the most significant human activity is interpersonal communication (Griffin 60).[2] Additionally, Symbolic interaction theory has been influenced by two other theorists, Yrjö Engeström and David Middleton. They outlined the practicality of symbolic interactionism in various work settings, including law courts, healthcare, software design, scientific laboratories, telephone sales, as well as the control, repair, and maintenance of advanced manufacturing systems.[3] Other scholars who have made significant contributions to this theory include Thomas, Park, James, Horton, Cooley, Znaniecki, Baldwin, Redfield, and Wirth.[4]

Basic premises and approach

The concept of “symbolic interactionism” is a distinct approach to studying human life and behavior. According to Blumer (1939), this approach views reality as a result of social interaction with others. Symbolic interactionists generally believe that while there is a physical reality, individuals perceive and define it socially. Consequently, people respond to the social understanding of reality, rather than directly to the physical reality itself. As a result, humans exist in three realities: a physical objective reality, a social reality, and a unique reality.

Both individuals and society cannot be disconnected from each other due to two reasons. First, they are both formed through social interaction. Second, one cannot be comprehended without the other. Behavior is not determined by external or internal forces like instincts or drives, but rather by a reflective, socially interpreted significance of both the internal and external motivations that are currently present (Meltzer et al., 1975).[5]

According to Herbert Blumer (1969), there are three fundamental principles of this perspective:

1. Individuals form their actions towards things based on the meanings they attribute to those things.

2. The meaning of these things comes from the social interaction one has with others and society.

3. These meanings are managed and altered through an interpretative process employed by individuals when engaging with the things they encounter.

The text presents the idea that human beings perceive and interact with the world based on the personal meanings they assign to physical objects, actions, and concepts. These meanings are derived from social interactions with others. According to Blumer and Mead, individuals interpret and define each other’s actions rather than simply reacting to them. This interaction is facilitated through the use of symbols and signification, as people ascertain the meaning of one another’s actions. The text further suggests that meaning can often be overlooked as unimportant or seen as a neutral link between factors influencing human behavior. Language plays a critical role in negotiating meaning, allowing us to name things and assign them to specific ideas or phenomena. Symbolic interpretation and intelligent expression are commonly employed methods for comprehending and expressing meaning.Blumer compared this process with behaviorist accounts of human behavior, which lack room for interpretation.

In the third premise put forth by Blumer, the concept of minding comes into play. Symbolic interactionists refer to thinking as an inner conversation (Griffin 62). Mead referred to this internal dialogue as minding. Minding refers to the delay in one’s thought process that occurs when considering their next action. The third premise states that these meanings are processed and altered through an interpretive process[6] that individuals use to handle the things they encounter. When faced with a challenging situation, we naturally engage in self-talk to make sense of its meaning. However, language is a prerequisite for such thinking. Before we can think, we must possess the ability to engage in symbolic interaction (Griffin 62). The focus on symbols, negotiated meaning, and the social construction of society has brought attention to the roles individuals play. Role-taking is a crucial mechanism that enables individuals to understand another person’s perspective and comprehend the implications of their actions for others. Role-taking is evident from an early age through activities like playing house or pretending to be someone else. Roles possess an improvisational aspect; nonetheless, actors often adhere to a predefined script. Due to the uncertain nature of roles in social contexts, the responsibility for role-making lies with the individual within the given situation. In this sense, we actively participate in shaping our environment.[7]

Mind, Self and Society

“Mead’s Mind, Self and Society” is a book composed by Mead’s students, which stems from his lectures and teaching. The title of the book encompasses the pivotal ideas of symbolic interaction theory. The mind entails an individual’s capacity to employ symbols for attributing significance to their surroundings. This is achieved through language and cognition. Self denotes an individual’s ability to introspect upon how they are perceived by others. Lastly, Mead posits that society is the backdrop against which all these interactions occur.

The use of “I” and “me” [edit]

In terms of self-concept, Mead differentiates between the “I” and the “me”. The “I” represents the active aspect of an individual, while the “me” reflects the socialized aspect. This concept is similar to Cooley’s looking-glass self. An illustration of these concepts can be seen in the pygmalion effect, where an individual (I) acts according to the perception of themselves (me) as influenced by others, creating a prophecy that fulfills itself.

Research and methods[edit]

Sociologists in this tradition have studied various topics using different research methods. Nonetheless, most interactionist research utilizes qualitative research methods, such as participant observation, to examine aspects of social interaction and/or individuals’ selves. Participant observation enables researchers to understand symbols and meanings, as seen in the works of Howard S. Becker’s “Art Worlds” (1982) and Arlie Hochschild’s “The Managed Heart” (1983).[8] These scholars argue that close contact and immersion in participants’ everyday activities are essential for comprehending the meaning of actions, defining situations, and understanding how actors construct situations through their interactions. Due to this close contact, interactions are inevitably influenced by researchers’ value commitments. In most cases, researchers employ their values when selecting what to study; however, they strive for objectivity in conducting their research. Hence, the symbolic-interaction approach is a micro-level orientation that zooms in on human interaction within specific situations.

Sociology subfields influenced by symbolic interactionism include sociology of emotions, deviance/criminology, collective behavior/social movements, and sociology of sex. Commonly used interactionist concepts include definition of the situation, emotion work, impression management, looking glass self, and total institution. While connected to this discipline, semiology in interactionism focuses on the fluidity and ambiguity of meaning rather than the structures of language.[8]

Ethnomethodology, a branch of symbolic interactionism, questions how interactions among individuals can give the impression of a shared social order, despite their lack of complete understanding and differing perspectives. Harold Garfinkel demonstrated this through “breaching experiments,” called “experiments in trust,” in which his students disrupted conventional conversations to challenge the assumption that they comprehended what the other person meant. They would request explanations and then further explanations (Garfinkel 1967) to comprehend each other’s definitions and viewpoints. Recent ethnomethodological research has conducted extensive analyses of ordinary conversations to uncover how the process of turn-taking and other conversational techniques are managed.[7]

Symbolic interactionism is built on five core concepts:

  1. Meaning: The understanding that symbols hold unique meanings for each individual
  2. Language: The use of symbols to communicate and interpret meaning
  3. Thought: The process of thinking and interpreting symbols
  4. Self: How individuals define themselves in relation to others
  5. Society: The collective actions and behaviors of individuals within a social group

According to Joel M. Charon, author of Symbolic Interactionism An Introduction, An Interpretation, An Integration, there are five central ideas to symbolic interactionism. Firstly, the human being should be viewed as a social person. The constant search for social interaction motivates us to do what we do. Instead of concentrating on an individual’s personality or how society influences behavior, symbolic interactionism focuses on the actions that occur between individuals. Interaction is the fundamental element of study, as individuals and society are formed through social interaction. Our actions are influenced by past and current interactions with others. Thus, social interaction is key to understanding cause. Secondly, the human being should be seen as a thinking being. Human action involves not only interaction among individuals but also internal cognitive processes. Our thoughts and thinking process play a crucial role in our actions, surpassing the significance of ideas, attitudes, or values.

We are not merely conditioned or influenced by others; we are not simply products of society. We, at our very core, are thinking animals constantly engaging in self-dialogue as we interact with others. To truly understand the cause of our actions, we must focus on human thinking. Humans do not directly perceive their environment; instead, we define the situation we are in. While an environment may objectively exist, it is our definition of it that holds significance. This definition is not arbitrary; rather, it emerges from ongoing social interaction and thought. The cause of human action lies in the present moment – in current social interaction, thought, and definition. Our past experiences or society’s past encounters with us do not solely determine our actions. Instead, it is our present social interaction, thinking, and definition of the situation that shape our behavior. Our past influences our actions primarily because we consciously think about it and apply it to the current situation’s definition. Human beings are active beings in relation to their environment. Unlike other social-scientific perspectives, symbolic interaction does not describe humans as passive or controlled by their surroundings; instead, they are actively engaged participants in their actions.

The following are the central themes of interactionism:

Herbert Blumer’s conceptual perspective can be summarized in three core principles. First, people act towards things, including each other, based on the meanings they have for them. Second, these meanings are acquired through social interaction with others. Third, these meanings are managed and transformed through an interpretive process that people use to understand and handle the objects that make up their social worlds. Building on Blumer’s work, David A. Snow, a distinguished professor of Sociology at the University of California, suggests four broader and more fundamental guiding principles: human agency, interactive determination, symbolization, and emergence. Snow uses these four principles as thematic foundations for identifying and discussing the contributions to the study of social movements.

Human agency is the emphasis on the active, willful, goal-seeking nature of human actors, highlighting actions, events, and moments in social life where agentic action is prominent. It involves interactive determination.

Interactive determination refers to the understanding of focal objects of analysis, such as self-concepts, identities, roles, practices, and social movements. In simple terms, this implies that individuals, society, self, or others do not exist independently of each other and can only be comprehensively understood through their interactions. Symbolization is also a crucial aspect.

Symbolization is the process of giving meaning to events, conditions, artifacts, people, and environmental features. These things become objects of orientation and influence human behavior based on their symbolism or meaning. This concept highlights how symbols and their meanings emerge.

The concept of emergence directs its attention towards the dynamic and non-routine aspects of social life. It encompasses an exploration of the organization, structure, meaning, and emotions associated with social life. The principle of emergence highlights both the potential for new social forms and the potential for transformations within existing social organizations (Herman-Kinney Reynolds 812-824)[1].

New media[edit]

The term “New Media” refers to everything that pertains to the internet and the relationship between technology, images, and sound[10]. As research on online communities increases, the idea of an online community has become a more widely accepted social concept. These studies cover various aspects such as discursive communities[11][12], identity[13][14], community as a social reality[15], networking[16], the public sphere[17], and ease and anonymity in interactions[18]. They demonstrate that online communities are significant social constructs that have cultural, structural, political, and economic characteristics.

Online and face-to-face interactions both contribute to the formation of people’s ideas about community. Consequently, individuals act in accordance with the meanings they derive from these interactions, whether online or offline. This perspective highlights that online communication can have diverse interpretations for different individuals, influenced by factors such as information, circumstances, relationships, power dynamics, and other community elements. The concept of community is enacted according to individuals’ understanding, constantly evolving as new methods of utilization emerge. Scholars face ongoing challenges in comprehending the composition, functioning, and connection of online communities to offline social life.

The article titled “The Cyberself: The Self-ing Project goes online, Symbolic Interaction in the Digital Age” discusses symbolic interaction theory and its application to understanding how individuals form their sense of self through interactions with others. The author, Robinson, suggests that advances in technology have changed the process of identity formation. Using symbolic interaction theory, Robinson explores the creation of online identities, referred to as the cyber “I” and digital “generalized other.” She argues that these cyber identities may differ from how individuals are perceived offline.

Criticisms[edit]

Symbolic interactionists are often criticized for their research methods being overly impressionistic and their theories being somewhat unsystematic. It is argued that the theory is not a single theory but rather a framework for many different theories. In addition, some theorists have a problem with the lack of testability in symbolic interaction theory. These objections, combined with the narrow focus of interactionist research on small-group interactions and other social psychological issues, have resulted in the interactionist camp being in a minority position among sociologists, albeit a fairly substantial one. Most of the criticism emerged during the 1970s in the U.S. when quantitative approaches to sociology were dominant. One of the most well-known critiques was made by Alvin Gouldner.[21]

Framework and theories[edit]

The critiques of symbolic interactionism are based on the assumption that it is not a theory and critics apply the criteria for a “good” theory to it. Some critics find the symbolic interactionist framework too broad when looking for specific theories. Symbolic interactionism is actually a theoretical framework, as distinguished from a theory, according to Stryker and Vryan (2003). This means that specific theories, hypotheses, and conceptualizations must be derived from the framework in order to assess them based on the criteria for a good theory. The framework itself is vague when it comes to analyzing empirical data or predicting social outcomes. Many scholars find it difficult to use because it is a framework rather than a specific theory. This also means that testing interactionism in the same way as a specific theoretical claim is impossible.Different from the symbolic interactionist framework, the various theories that originate from symbolic interactionism, including role theory and the versions of Identity Theory proposed by Stryker[23][24], as well as Burke and colleagues[25][26], offer clear definitions of concepts and their interrelationships within a specific context. This enables the possibility of formulating and examining hypotheses. Additionally, among Blumerian processual interactionists, a significant number of valuable conceptualizations have been formulated and utilized across diverse social contexts, population groups, behavioral patterns, cultures, and subcultures.

Social structure[edit]

Symbolic interactionism is often associated with social structure and suggests that it is a construct of people’s social reality. The interpretations made do not significantly impact the reality of a situation when it is defined. Methodological criticisms and critical sociological issues are included in this theory. Sheldon Stryker’s structural symbolic interactionism and other formulations heavily influenced by this approach, such as the “Indiana School” of symbolic interactionism, have been addressed by numerous symbolic interactionists. Key scholars in sociology and psychology have used different methods and theories to apply a structural version of interactionism, as seen in a 2003 collection edited by Burke et al. Manford H. Kuhn’s formulation, referred to as the “Iowa School,” also applies a quantitative approach. The “Negotiated Order Theory” also utilizes a structural perspective.

According to this theory, language is the origin of all meaning.[7] Herbert Blumer, a social constructionist, sheds light on key aspects of Social Interactionism. Individuals generally interpret things based on their assigned meaning and purpose. Interaction takes place once the meaning of something has been established. This understanding of meaning is what begins to shape social reality. Blumer argues that language embodies the meaning of interaction and is essential in all forms of communication, both verbal and non-verbal. He describes this source of meaning as a result of the social interaction that occurs between individuals.

Social Interactionism and the critical perspective are interconnected in various ways. They share similarities in terms of their points of convergence and synergism, influencing the overall social structure. Social theorist Patricia Burbank asserts that the amalgamation and divergence of these concepts shape individuals’ perspectives as social beings. Although they differ in their perspectives on human freedom and levels of focus, these concepts have significant associations with each other.

According to Burbank, the process of Social Interaction is influenced by actions based on the effects of situations. Furthermore, the environment in which the social interaction takes place plays a significant role in meaningful situations. This environment has an impact on the interaction, which in turn results in a reference group and perspective, ultimately leading to the definition of the situation. These steps outline the proper way to define a situation. Once the situation is defined, it is followed by an approval of the action. Consequently, an interpretation is made regarding that action, which can potentially impact the perspective, action, and definition.

Sheldon Stryker, a social constructionist, has had a significant impact on the field of Social Interactionism. According to Stryker, the sociology world is the most viable and vibrant intellectual framework because communication enables the concept of the wider community in which people live, fueling symbolic interactionism. Symbolic interactionism reveals our thoughts, actions, and gestures, revitalizing society. The Social Interactionism Theory, composed of our thoughts and self-belief, is the purpose of all human interaction and the cause of society’s existence. However, criticisms arise regarding the symbolic interactionist framework’s inability to account for social structure, as well as its resistance to quantitative methods and empirical testing. The framework is crucial for the symbolic interaction theory since establishing bonds of communication is necessary for the formation of social structure. Published literature shows that both structural and processual variations of interactionism are present in sociology, along with the Blumerian tradition of interactionism. Psychology and anthropology have increasingly employed interactionism explicitly and frequently.The basic principles of the symbolic interactionist framework can be seen in various sociological and psychological studies, even if they are not explicitly identified as interactionist. This widespread acceptance of its assumptions as common knowledge makes it challenging to identify the influence of symbolic interactionism. Many scholars may unknowingly incorporate interactionist ideas into their own theories and concepts.

Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction[edit]

The Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction (SSSI) is an international professional organization focused on the study of Symbolic Interaction. SSSI holds an annual conference in conjunction with the American Sociological Association and the Society for the Study of Social Problems. This conference takes place in August and is sponsored by SSSI. The organization also hosts the Couch-Stone Symposium every spring. SSSI offers travel scholarships for student members interested in attending the conference. At the conference, SSSI presents yearly awards in various categories of symbolic interaction, including some that are open to student members. SSSI publishes a quarterly journal called Symbolic Interaction and releases a newsletter called “SSSI Notes.”